Former Verizon network engineer Michael W. Baxter was recently sentenced to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay almost $3 million in restitution for stealing equipment worth millions of dollars from Verizon Wireless and Cisco Systems.

"Baxter was employed by Verizon in Alpharetta for 16 years, from 1994 until he was fired in 2010," writes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Christopher Seward. "He was among employees authorized to make service requests and order replacement parts from Cisco Systems under warranty agreements the company had with Verizon to keep its network up and running."

"Beginning at least as early as 2001 and continuing until he was fired by Verizon in May 2010, Baxter submitted hundreds of fraudulent service requests on behalf of Verizon Wireless via Cisco Systems’ online customer service database," writes The Atlanta Business Chronicle's Jacques Couret. "In response, Cisco Systems shipped millions of dollars in parts to Baxter at Verizon Wireless from various Cisco Systems distribution centers throughout the United States."

He then sold those parts to resellers, and kept the proceeds. "According to the FBI, he spent his purloined loot to buy jewelry, cars, and 'extravagant international travel, and other personal luxury goods and services, including multiple cosmetic surgeries for his girlfriend,'" writes The Register's Iain Thomson.

"Telecommunications networks are a vital part of our infrastructure, supporting governments, health and emergency services, and businesses throughout this nation and the world," United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. "To accomplish his fraud, this defendant exploited a program designed to keep this critical infrastructure running uninterrupted: Cisco's program for replacing expensive equipment on a moment’s notice. He also abused his insider access to Verizon’s procurement system. He funded a lavish lifestyle with his stolen funds and has now earned himself several years in a federal prison."