Computer firm charged with bilking Philly of $1.2 million

A New Jersey-based computer contractor is accused of ripping off the city of Philadelphia by billing for more than a million dollars worth of services he never provided.

Barry Jones, the principal owner of Mara Management Services, is accused of submitting phony charges to three city departments on behalf of his Haddonfield information technology company. Jones is expected to plead guilty to federal mail fraud charges and pay the city $1.2 million in restitution.

Jones allegedly submitted bills for many hours he claimed he and his subcontractors worked between 2004 and 2008. City inspector general Amy Kurland says her office launched an investigation–but not because city officials suspected they were being shortchanged.

“There were several (of Jones’) subcontractors who weren’t being paid,” Kurland said. “They complained to the revenue department, and the revenue department forwarded it to us.”

Kurland said when her investigators reviewed Mara Management’s invoices, there were some obvious problems.

“Some of it just seemed impossible,” Kurland said. “For example, you can’t really work more than 40 hours a week. The number of hours that were submitted just seemed excessive.”

Kurland referred the case to federal prosecutors, who have charged Jones in a criminal information, a filing typically used when a defendant has agreed to plead guilty.

Somehow over the four-year period of the alleged fraud, the three city departments never knew they were paying for services Jones’ company never performed.

Kurland says Jones’ firm worked for other city departments, and she’s asking them to closely examine their billings.

Efforts to reach Jones’ attorney, Joseph Bongiovanni, were unsuccessful.

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