- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The former president of a company that ripped off high school and youth sports programs by inflating invoices and forging fake bids from competitors was sentenced to probation on Wednesday after cooperating with the government.

David Drill faced a maximum five-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2008 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Two other former executives of the company pleaded guilty to similar charges and were sentenced this year, and two former school officials also pleaded guilty.

Drill was president of Easton, Pennsylvania-based Circle System Group, which sold athletic equipment, uniforms and apparel to schools and youth sports programs, mostly in New Jersey.

An indictment alleged the company created fake price quotes from competitors that Circle would then undercut to win contracts. It also alleged Circle inflated invoices to reimburse itself for money it had donated to the schools’ fundraising and charity efforts and for gifts it had given to school officials, including laptop computers, digital cameras and flat-screen TVs.

The company also allegedly sent schools monthly statements that looked like invoices, leading many schools to pay the same invoice twice. Prosecutors alleged the company reaped nearly $1 million in overpayments this way, and kept most of the money.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the victims included more than two dozen high schools as well as Rutgers and Monmouth universities.

Former Circle Chief Financial Officer Mitchell Kurlander of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in September to nearly 3½ years in prison in connection with the scheme. His father-in-law, Alan Abeshaus, of Highland Beach, Florida, the company’s CEO, received probation and home confinement.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday that Drill won’t have to pay restitution because the other defendants have satisfied those requirements.

Drill’s lawyer, Joseph Afflitto Sr., said his client wasn’t involved in, and didn’t benefit from, the double-billing part of the scheme that was run by Kurlander and Abeshaus.

Drill “is grateful the judge gave him an opportunity to do what he can with the rest of his life,” Afflitto said.

Former Long Branch High athletic director Charles Ferrara Jr. and former Elizabeth High official Robert Firestone pleaded guilty and were sentenced in 2014 to one year of probation.

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