Windham man found guilty of embezzling millions of dollars from United Way

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CONCORD - A U.S. District judge has found a Windham man guilty of embezzling more than $6 million from a Massachusetts United Way chapter.

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray announced Friday afternoon that U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante found Imran Alrai, 45, guilty of wire fraud, money laundering, and transportation of stolen funds after a ten-day bench trial.

According to the trial evidence, Alrai was an information technology professional at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley in Boston, Massachusetts. Between 2012 and June 2018, Alrai obtained some $6.7 million in payments for IT services supposedly provided to United Way by an independent outside contractor, Digitalnet Technology Solutions, Inc.

Evidence at trial showed that Alrai misrepresented material facts about Digitalnet and fraudulently concealed that he owned and controlled Digitalnet. In early 2013, Alrai rigged the bidding process for a major contract to provide managed IT services at the United Way so that Digitalnet was chosen. Alrai then gave fake references and false information about Digitalnet to United Way.

For the next five years, while serving as United Way's Vice President for IT Services, Alrai steered additional IT work to Digitalnet, so that his company soon became UW's second-largest outside vendor, receiving more than $1 million annually.

Alrai concealed from his colleagues that he had anything to do with Digitalnet, routinely sending emails with attached invoices from a fictitious person to himself at United Way. After the fraud came to light, in June 2018, officials at United Way confronted Alrai and terminated him.

Federal agents executed search and seizure warrants and seized incriminating documents and data from Alrai's home office in Windham, as well as approximately $2.2 million in fraud proceeds in bank and investment accounts. During the scheme, Alrai wired $1.2 million in fraud proceeds to a Digitalnet bank account in Lahore, Pakistan.

According to expert testimony at the trial, United Way lost at least $3.1 million as a result of Alrai's crimes due to Digitalnet's excessive billing, duplicate billing, and billing for services not delivered. The same expert calculated that Alrai personally enriched himself in the amount of $3.7 million. The evidence further showed that in 2013-14 Alrai perpetrated a similar scheme at the Robert Allen Group in Foxboro, Mass., where Alrai was CIO, and induced that company to pay Digitalnet more than $400,000. The total amount involved in the scheme was approximately $7 million.

Judge Laplante convicted Alrai on 18 counts of wire fraud, 14 counts of money laundering, and 12 counts of transporting stolen funds. The court acquitted Alrai on six counts of money laundering, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports with the IRS. The court also ordered forfeiture in an amount to be determined. The court previously ordered that Alrai repatriate funds he wired to Pakistan.

Alrai will be detained pending sentencing, which is scheduled for March 21.

"Those who engage in fraud should understand that their schemes will be detected and that they will be prosecuted for their illegal actions," said Murray. "The defendant took advantage of trust that was placed in him in order to steal millions of dollars from a charitable organization. The defendant enriched himself at the expense of the United Way and its supporters, diverting money intended for the benefit of the less fortunate. Such deceitful conduct cannot be tolerated. This conviction is one step in our effort to secure justice for the victims of this scheme."

"In a season when people reach out and dig deep to help the less fortunate, it is fitting that Imran Alrai be convicted of greedily stealing millions of dollars from the United Way of Massachusetts and Merrimack Valley, a charitable organization whose reason for being is to enrich the lives of others," said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. "Mr. Alrai betrayed his position of trust as an IT executive, using lies and deceit to raid United Way's coffers to pay off his house, foot the bill for plastic surgery, and enhance his personal wealth. We are thankful for the verdicts and the assistance of our law enforcement partners, all of which affirm our belief that financial fraud is never a victimless crime.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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