DETROIT – A school contractor pleaded guilty today to bribing and conspiring with Albert Morrison, the former School Board President of Madison District Public Schools, in a half-million dollar pay to play scheme, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.
Ison was joined in the announcement by James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michigan Division; Sarah Kull, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; and John Woolley, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General.
John David, age 65, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Laurie Michelson to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery from 2014 through 2018 and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. Morrison was the elected President of the Madison District Public Schools Board of Education from 2012 through 2018. While Morrison was President, David was one of the owners of a building maintenance and reconstruction company, Emergency Restoration (a/k/a Emergency Reconstruction), that was awarded over $3.1 million in maintenance and construction projects in the Madison District Public Schools.
According to court records, David, who was a long-time friend of Morrison, wrote over $550,000 in checks from his company to Morrison’s company, Comfort Consulting, from 2014 through 2018. Morrison deposited the checks from David into his own bank account. The investigation uncovered $561,667 in payments from David to Morrison. David admitted he had to “pay to play” in the school district, and David’s companies received approximately $3,167,275 from the Madison District during the bribery conspiracy. Morrison spent the money from David on personal luxuries such as vacations in Florida and a boat slip.
To keep the payments secret from the school board and the community in the Madison Schools, Morrison, when publicly confronted at a Madison District school board meeting, denied having any financial ties to David or Emergency Restoration. Morrison and David also failed to disclose to State of Michigan auditors the payments Morrison received from David.
“Our community deserves school systems free of corruption,” said U.S. Attorney Ison. “This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to ensure that public officials in our educational systems put the interests of our children first.”
“Mr. David guaranteed he would receive work funded by Madison District Public Schools not by participating in a fair and transparent process, but by bribing those in positions of power,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities because of the negative impact corruption has on the public’s faith in government agencies. The FBI, IRS, and Department of Education Office of Inspector General will continue to work cooperatively to hold those who engage in corrupt practices in our education system accountable for their crimes.”
Sentencing is set for August 14, 2023 at 1 PM.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Department of Education. It is prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Resnick Cohen, Karen Reynolds, and Gjon Juncaj.