Bus company VP admits to defrauding school districts

A Millersburg bus company and one of its former executives pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges they defrauded two Dauphin County school districts.

Harris Transportation and former vice president Todd Harris entered guilty pleas to one count of mail fraud before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo.

Harris, 49, of Dalmatia, and the family-owned company defrauded the Halifax Area and the Upper Dauphin Area school districts out of more than $1.4 million between 2008 and 2011, according to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith.

Harris routinely submitted false and grossly inflated mileage claims to the school districts, resulting in substantial overpayments of $566,556 from Halifax and $898,057 from Upper Dauphin.

Smith said the state Education Department also was a victim of the scheme because it reimbursed Halifax for approximately 82 percent and Upper Dauphin approximately 84 percent of their approved 2008-2011 student transportation expenses.

The school districts terminated their contracts with Harris Transportation in early 2012, and the company ceased doing business shortly thereafter.

The guilty pleas require Harris and the former company to cooperate with the government, to forfeit their interests in the proceeds of the fraud, and to make restitution to the school districts.

Mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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