BOROUGHWIDE— John Comito, CEO of the Staten Island-based company AutoExec Computer Systems, was indicted Tuesday for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for internet access for disadvantaged children at over 20 Catholic schools in the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese.
Comito allegedly overbilled the federal E-rate program, defrauding it of approximately $426,000.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the E-rate program distributes funds to schools and libraries serving economically disadvantaged children to purchase telecommunication services, internet access and related equipment.
Schools must certify that they are purchasing equipment and services from an approved private vendor in order to qualify. The program then defrays the schools’ costs by up to 90 percent.
From 2013-2017, 26 elementary, middle and high schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn contracted with AutoExec to provide telecommunications equipment and services. At least eight schools received no equipment or services, and the remaining schools received partial, substandard or non-approved equipment and services.
Comito was arrested on the morning of Dec. 17 and released on a $500,000 bond. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count of mail fraud and wire fraud if convicted.
“Comito allegedly overbilled the E-rate program … in order to enrich himself at the expense of the children the program was designed to serve,” said United States Attorney Richard Donoghue. “This office will vigorously prosecute those who defraud taxpayer-supported programs for personal gain.”
“Society will swiftly denounce this type of criminal behavior, and Comito will now he held accountable,” added U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector-in-Charge Philip Bartlett.