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Michael Dell faces questions in crime-camera case

New Orleans deposition

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Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of the eponymous computer vendor, has been deposed by a New Orleans judge in a lawsuit concerning double-dealing in that famously corrupt city's crime-camera program.

The lawsuit is heinously complex, but we can safely say that it accuses the computer vendor of acting improperly when providing a lucrative security-camera system to New Orleans.

In the deposition, Michael Dell will be asked about whether the sale of the security cameras came up in an alleged meeting between him and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin in June 2004.

The meeting remains "alleged" because, according to the AP, a Dell attorney claims that neither Nagin nor Michael Dell remember it.

Another Dell employee, however, recently said in a sworn statement that he was at the meeting, which he said took place "on or about June 21, 2004" - although he said that only public-school equipment was discussed, not crime cameras.

At the crux of the lawsuit is the accusation by two companies, Active Solutions and Southern Electronics, that their surveillance system was ripped-off by Dell and its partner NetMethods and sold to the city's allegedly corrupt technology chief, Greg Meffert.

Complicating the matter is that the city's technology department bought cameras from Dell despite the fact that such equipment was not part of a purchasing agreement approved by the Louisiana state purchasing office.

According to the New Orleans Time-Picayune, the camera prohibition inspired Dell's Louisiana purchasing coordinator to ask a New Orleans city hall subcontractor in an email, "Can we use a different word than camera in the description, as we are not allowed to sell cameras on our contract? I'm thinking video capture module or something like that." Dell eventually settled on the term "eyeball."

At the center of the controversy is the city's technology chief, Greg Meffert, who not-coincidentally availed himself of an alleged $130,000 in personal purchases supplied by a city subcontractor involved in the brouhaha, including a trip for mayor Nagin's family to Jamaica and a San Francisco vacation for Meffert that included a bill for $2,700 at a strip club.

And now it's time for Michael Dell to weigh in on all these shenanigans - whether he wants to or not.

The trial is set for September. ®

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