10/23/2018Texas School Bus Chief Busted In Photo Enforcement Scandal
Former school board president in Dallas, Texas pleads guilty to tax evasion after taking school bus camera company bribes.
The former Dallas County Schools board president on Monday entered a plea of guilty to federal corruption charges related to the ill-fated Texas school bus stop-arm camera program. Larry Duncan, once a powerful Democratic politician who served four terms on the Dallas city council became the fifth to fall in the bribery scandal that plunged his agency $103 million in debt for the benefit of a private company.
Duncan used his position at Dallas County Schools to advance the controversial automated ticketing program run by Force Multiplier Solutions (now operating as BusPatrol). In return, that company handed Duncan $245,000 in campaign contributions. Of that amount, Duncan used $184,726 for purely personal expenses that had nothing to do with his school board campaign. Instead of getting him on bribery, US Attorney Erin Nealy Cox charged Duncan with failing to report that windfall on his 2016 tax return.
"Those who seek to capitalize on positions of power undermine public trust in the very system they are meant to serve," Cox said in a statement. "And that is something we cannot abide."
The tax evasion charge, a felony, only carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison. He will have to pay the IRS $39,717 in back taxes, plus interest. A judge can potentially order a fine of twice the profit he made from the scheme, or $490,000. Duncan faces the lightest potential sentence compared to four other co-conspirators who have owned up about their role in the photo enforcement scam. Force Multiplier CEO Robert Leonard distributed $3 million in bribes to Dallas County Schools superintendent Ricky Dale Sorrells and $450,000 in illicit kickbacks to Dallas councilman Dwaine Caraway. This money was laundered through front groups set up by Slater Washburn Swartwood Sr. US District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn has set a December 14 sentencing hearing to begin deciding punishment for the individuals involved. It is unclear whether more indictments are expected.
"The FBI remains committed to investigating anyone associated with the financial exploitation at Dallas County Schools," Federal Bureau of Investigations special agent-in-charge Eric K. Jackson said in a statement.