Former President and Employee of Auto Parts Manufacturing Company Sentenced for Conspiring to Defraud the United States
DETROIT – The former School Board President of the Madison District Public Schools pleaded guilty today to taking bribes from a local school contractor in a pay-to-play scheme and to tax evasion, 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; Charles Miller, 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.
Albert Morrison, age 62, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Laurie Michelson to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery from 2014 through 2018 and tax evasion. Morrison was the elected President of the Madison District Public Schools Board of Education from 2012 through 2018. While Morrison was President, co-defendant John 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.
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. David pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy and bribery on April 13, 2023.
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.
Morrison did not declare to the IRS David’s payments to Comfort Consulting as income in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018. In a further effort to conceal the payments from David, Morrison did not file a federal income tax return in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. By not declaring to the IRS the payments from David as income, Morrison avoided paying approximately $118,200 in taxes.
“This pay- to -play scheme damaged the Madison District Public Schools and undermined the community’s trust in the education system, ,” said U.S. Attorney Ison. “This prosecution demonstrates we will not allow the greed of corrupt school officials to harm the interests of our children.”
"Today, Mr. Morrison admitted to accepting bribes while he was president of the Madison District Public School Board. His actions intentionally betrayed the public's trust that he would act in the best interest of the school district and children. Further, his actions destroyed the public's trust that contracts would be awarded through a fair and transparent process." said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “We thank the IRS and Department of Education Office of Inspector General for working alongside the FBI to investigate these allegations and expose Mr. Morrison’s corruption.”
“The citizens of our community deserve trustworthy public officials, instead of an elected individual who abuses their power to enhance their own lifestyle," said Charles Miller, IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Field Office. "IRS-CI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes, especially those individuals in positions of trust like Morrison."
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.