A former Orangeburg County School District employee has admitted stealing approximately $550,000 from the district during 2020.
David Cortez Marshall Jr., 30, formally pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court on Thursday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis.
The 30-year-old Orangeburg resident was previously employed as a media communications specialist with the district, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brook Andrews.
Marshall admitted the U.S. Attorney’s Office accurately described his crime.
“The school district had a need for online learning cameras,” early in the COVID-19 pandemic when the district moved to virtual learning, Andrews said.
The district received “a substantial amount of federal funds” to buy cameras, Andrews said.
Through the use of shell companies, fabricated documents, forged signatures and a false identity, Marshall steered the district’s purchasing contracts to companies he created and controlled, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
People are also reading…
Marshall then purchased the cameras and sold them to the school district at a substantial markup.
“All the while, the camera company and school district thought they were communicating with each other, but they were talking with Mr. Marshall,” Andrews said.
As part of the scheme, Marshall marked up the cost of the cameras by $130,000, Andrews said.
Andrews also stated the camera company sold the devices to Marshall tax-free, but Marshall then sent a tax bill to the district for $60,000.
Marshall also received funds for cameras from the school district that he never paid to the seller.
His scheme was eventually discovered by other school district employees, who confronted Marshall and reported the matter to the FBI for further investigation.
OCSD spokesperson Merry Glenne Piccolino said that internal procurement officers first identified a concern last school year during an investigation into a purchase order and state contractor status.
“We have been disappointed to discover the fraudulent activities a former employee was engaged in during his employment with our district,” she added.
Marshall resigned from the district in March 2021, Piccolino said.
Marshall told the court he now works as a day trader.
According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “Day traders rapidly buy, sell and short-sell stocks throughout the day in the hope that the stocks continue climbing or falling in value for the seconds or minutes they hold the shares, allowing them to lock in quick profits. Day trading is extremely risky and can result in substantial financial losses in a very short period of time.”
Marshall remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond while he awaits sentencing.
He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, three years of supervised release afterward and fine up to $250,000, in addition to restitution.
Lewis will sentence Marshall after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
U.S. Attorney Corey Ellis said, “Any time an employee uses a position of trust to steal from their employer, it is inexcusable and wrong. Here, Marshall’s crime was particularly reprehensible because he stole money, provided by South Carolina taxpayers, from a school district during a pandemic that has already created unprecedented challenges in public education,”
FBI Columbia Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic said, “Throughout the pandemic, individuals like Marshall have created schemes and exploited programs designed to aid the public. …
“Let this serve as a reminder that we will not tolerate this criminal activity, and we will hold those involved accountable.”
This incident isn’t the first time Marshall has been in trouble with the law.
On Dec. 13, 2017, Marshall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of second-degree assault and battery.
An Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office warrant originally charged Marshall with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, but he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and battery instead.
A sheriff’s office incident report and warrant accused Marshall of inappropriately touching an 11-year-old boy in 2016. Marshall told investigators he’d been mentoring the boy for three years and knew him through church.
Circuit Judge Ed Dickson sentenced Marshall to three years in prison, suspended to 18 months of probation.
As part of his probation, the court ordered Marshall to comply with all treatment interventions recommended by his evaluation by Southern Assessments on May 24, 2017.
On April 4, 2018, Dickson terminated Marshall’s probation after he completed treatment.
Piccolino told The T&D that Marshall began working for Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 on Aug. 15, 2016, but went on administrative leave from Jan. 31, 2017 until May 4, 2018.
Marshall resumed his full-time duties on May 7, 2018, she said.
Upon consolidation of Orangeburg County’s school district, Marshall continued in his position until his resignation.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD