A former Verizon Wireless employee was sentenced to four years in federal prison for ordering nearly $2.8 million in equipment for the communications company and then selling it out of his home.
Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that Michael W. Baxter, 62, of Ball Ground in Cherokee County used the money to buy cars, jewelry and multiple cosmetic surgeries for his girlfriend.
Baxter ordered the high-value network communications equipment for Verizon from Cisco Systems over a decade when he was employed as a Verizon network engineer, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Baxter “abused his insider access to Verizon’s procurement system. He funded a lavish lifestyle with his stolen funds.”
In addition to his four-year sentence followed by three years of supervised release, Baxter was ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to Cisco Systems, and $462,828 in restitution to Verizon.
Baxter was employed by Verizon in Alpharetta for 16 years, from 1994 until he was fired in 2010. He was among employees authorized to make service requests and order replacement parts from Cisco Systems under warranty agreements the company had with Verizon to keep its network up and running.
Beginning in early 2001, prosecutors said, Baxter placed hundreds of parts orders for network equipment, such as processors and cards, valued at as much as $40,000 per item. The parts were sent from Cisco distribution centers across the country, prosecutors said.
“Instead of placing the replacement parts into service in Verizon Wireless’ network, Baxter simply took them home and sold them to third-party resellers for his own profit,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a release.
Prosecutors said he then used the money to take international trips and to buy luxury goods and services. His girlfriend, who prosecutors did not identify, benefited from “multiple cosmetic surgeries,” they said.
Baxter was convicted of wire fraud in February after pleading guilty.