CONCORD — A former United Way vice president who lives in Windham has been convicted of multiple federal counts of wire fraud and money laundering for swindling that agency out of millions of dollars.

The guilty verdicts for Imran Alrai, 45, came last Friday after a 10-day bench trial in U.S. District Court. Alrai is being detained while awaiting sentencing on March 21, 2020. 

Alrai was an information technology (IT) professional at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley in Boston from 2012 to 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case. In early 2013, Alrai rigged the bidding process for a major IT contract so that a company that he secretly owned and operated, called Digitalnet, was selected.

Over the next five years, while serving as vice president for IT services at the United Way, Alrai steered additional work to Digitalnet, receiving more than $1 million annually, while concealing his own connection to the company from co-workers. Prosecutors say he “routinely sent emails with attached invoices from a fictitious person to himself at United Way.”

Alrai was fired when the fraud came to light in June, 2018. Federal agents executed search-and-seizure warrants at Alrai’s home office in Windham, and found documents, data and approximately $2.2 million in bank and investment accounts.

Alrai had also wired $1.2 million in fraudulent proceeds to a Digitalnet bank account in Lahore, Pakistan, authorities said.

According to testimony at the trial, United Way lost at least $3.1 million due to Digitalnet’s excessive billing, duplicate bills, and billing for services not delivered. Alrai also personally enriched himself in the amount of $3.7 million, an expert witness for the prosecution testified.

Officials said evidence showed that Alrai had perpetrated a similar fraud at his former employer in Massachusetts in 2013 and 2014, inducing that company to pay Digitalnet more than $400,000. They said the total amount involved in the fraudulent scheme was approximately $7 million.

Alrai was arrested in November, 2018, by agents from the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

On Friday, shortly after closing arguments, Judge Joseph Laplante convicted Alrai on 18 counts of wire fraud, 14 counts of money laundering and 12 counts of transporting stolen funds. The judge ordered forfeiture of funds in an amount to be determined, after previously ordering Alrai to repatriate funds he had wired to Pakistan.

He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud and 10 years for each of the other convictions, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Alrai was acquitted on six additional counts of money laundering, one count of aggravated identity theft and two counts of failing to file foreign bank account reports with the IRS.

After the guilty verdicts, U.S. Attorney Scott Murray said Alrai “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,” Murray said.

Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said 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.”

“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,” Bonavolonta said.

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley serves communities from Greater Boston and the North and South shores of Massachusetts to the Seacoast, including communities in New Hampshire.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020