The public corruption scandal that toppled Dallas County’s failing school bus bureaucracy has claimed another crooked official.
Former Dallas County Schools board president Larry Duncan pleaded guilty today to federal tax evasion and faces up to a year in prison. Four others involved in the agency’s money-laundering conspiracy have already pleaded guilty.
Duncan admitted he spent the “vast majority” of campaign contributions from an agency vendor “for his personal benefit.”
Duncan received $245,000 in contributions directly or indirectly from Robert Leonard, head of school bus camera vendor Force Multiplier Solutions, between 2012 and 2016—even though Duncan ran unopposed for his DCS board position. Court documents show Duncan spent $185,000 of the money from Leonard on personal expenses and failed to report it as personal income.
Leonard pleaded guilty in August to paying $3 million in bribes to former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells and $450,000 to ex-Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway while they were in office, in exchange for facilitating $70 million in contracts relating to a school-bus camera ticketing scheme. The failed scheme brought DCS to the brink of financial collapse. Dallas County residents voted last November to shut down the corrupt agency.
Caraway also pleaded guilty in August to federal corruption charges in the multi-year money-laundering conspiracy and resigned his city council seat.
Sorrells pleaded guilty in April to one federal conspiracy count in return for a maximum 10-year prison sentence and forfeiture of his ill-gotten gains. Leonard associate and conspiracy middleman Slater Swartwood, Sr. was the first indicted on criminal charges in the DCS case. He pleaded guilty to one federal money-laundering count in exchange for providing prosecutors information about his co-conspirators.
Caraway and Leonard are scheduled to be sentenced December 14. Caraway faces up to seven years in federal prison; Leonard could serve up to 10 years. Duncan’s sentencing is set for March 8.