Fraud or Injustice: Black-Owned Software Company Brought Down by Federal Government

By: Victor Trammell

A black-owned computer technology company called IRP Solutions based in Colorado Springs, Colorado was formerly what appeared to be a promising software development company looking to expand its base. Gary Walker (pictured left) is one of the company’s founders.

Along with four other black men, Walker conceptualized and worked on a vision to  build IRP Solutions into a successful business that would compete fairly against the Lockheed Martins and IBMs of the world.

As a black man pursuing a professional degree and career, it is inspiring to see other educated black men pursue their dreams. It is also a rare feat for black-owned businesses that start small in industries other than music and fashion to become multi-million dollar entities gainfully respected in the corporate world.

I fully support and applaud such efforts because they inspire a new generation to do something our race is not normally known for doing.

However, in some fields of business, it may not be a good idea for blacks to dream big. That is only true if you hold the cynicist’s mind. IRP Solutions was given a terminal blow to its existence from the federal government.

This case may very well justify such cynicism, which is fueled by the deep-seeded racism in America to this day. Beginning in 2002 for reasons unknown, the FBI’s offices in Colorado began investigating IRP Solutions and six executives that ran the company.

Gary Walker, David Banks, Demetrius Harper, Clinton Stewart, and Kendrick Barnes are black. The sixth executive, David Zirpolo is white. The software developed by IRP specialized in investigative case management purposes, which is a function relied upon by various law enforcement agencies.

The primary goal of this company was to contract with big law enforcement agencies in order to help them advance their methods of drawing links between people and cases more effectively. Sounds like a good idea for a firm with a great product operating for the commendable cause of better law enforcement, right? Wrong.

In 2005, IRP Solutions’ offices in Colorado Springs were raided by the F.B.I.  They confiscated software codes and other sensitive information. For reasons unclear, the agency also probed into the bank records of the  executives’ family members. Agents then probed into the personal records of members of the Colorado Springs Fellowship Church, which is where the IRP executives attended service regularly.

Why would such an extreme action be carried out by what most people believe is a responsible federal law enforcement agency? In 2009, all six executives were indicted on multiple federal counts of fraud. In October 2011, Gary Walker and his business partners were found guilty. They are all serving sentences around 10 years and are working on appealing their convictions.

After researching the case by reading over documentation sent to me by an advocacy group called A Just Cause, I saw that at at some point IRP began contracting with  temporary staffing agencies to perform the labor to develop the software.

However, when the software did not sell up to company standards, IRP was not able to pay its debt to the staffing companies. During a telephone interview with Gwendolyn Solomon (an attorney representing four of the IRP executives on their appeal), I began to suspect that this case should have never resulted in a federal investigation, let alone a criminal trial. “Typically something like this would have resulted in a civil case,” Solomon stated.

Solomon also told me: “Cases like this happen all the time and they are settled out of court, or the companies being sued end up filing for bankruptcy.” Matthew Kirsch, a U.S. Attorney in Colorado who led the prosecution of this case could not be reached for comment. Here is a link showing a video of supporters of Gary Walker and his associates: http://archive.org/details/dom-105068-ajustcause-episode3-irpsoluti   The video was produced by A Just Cause, a advocacy group assisting with the appeals in this case.

 

 

 

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