Bribe Payer in DCS Scheme Sentenced to 7 Years in Federal Prison, Ordered to Pay $125M in Restitution
Force Multiplier Solutions CEO Robert C. Leonard was sentenced today to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay $125 million in restitution for his role in a bribery scheme that took down multiple public officials and precipitated the collapse of Dallas County Schools, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Mr. Leonard, of New Orleans, Louisiana, pleaded guilty on August 9 to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.
“In peddling bribes and kickbacks, Mr. Leonard undermined Dallas’ trust in its public officials. And in bringing him to justice, we hope to restore citizens’ faith in the system,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “As I’ve said repeatedly over the past year and a half, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be relentless in its pursuit of anyone involved in bribing public officials – from bribe recipients to bribe facilitators to bribe payers. The citizens of Dallas deserve integrity from City Hall.”
In plea papers, Mr. Leonard, now 71, admits he paid local officials – including then Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and former DCS Superintendent Ricky Sorrells – more than $3.5 million in order to secure DCS contracts for his company’s stop-arm camera technology.
In an attempt to conceal the illicit payments, the majority of the bribe money was funneled through ELF Investments, a sham consulting firm run by Mr. Leonard’s business associate, Slater Swartwood. The remainder was funneled through law firms or doled out in the form of credit card debt repayments, student loan payments, custom-made suits, fully funded trips, casino chips, fake loans, funeral expenses, and cash payments.
A criminal indictment against former DCS Board President Larry Duncan revealed Mr. Leonard also gave Mr. Duncan a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions – money the DCS Board President diverted from his re-election bid and instead used to cover personal expenses.
Councilmembers Duncan and Caraway, as well as Mr. Sorrells and Mr. Swartwood, have pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing in the case.
Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn sentenced Mr. Caraway to 56 months in federal prison and Mr. Duncan to six months’ home confinement. Mr. Sorrells and Mr. Swartwood are set to be sentenced in August 2019.
Dallas County Schools, which collected property taxes to purchase stop-arm cameras for its fleet of about 2,000 busses, was shuttered in November 2017, saddled with approximately $103 million in debt.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Wirmani, NDTX’s Public Corruption Coordinator, Marcus Busch, NDTX’s Fraud Section Chief, Chad Meacham, and Joseph Magliolo prosecuted the case.