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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Former Councilman Larry Duncan Sentenced to 6 Months’ House Arrest in Public Corruption Probe

Former Dallas City Councilman Larry Duncan was sentenced this morning on charges stemming from the public corruption investigation into Dallas County Schools (DCS), announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.

A former DCS Board of Trustees President, Mr. Duncan, 73, pleaded guilty in October to one count of tax evasion, admitting he failed to pay income tax on campaign contributions from a DCS vendor. He was sentenced this morning to six months of home confinement and three years of probation; he will also be required to repay more than $45,000 in back taxes and interest and perform community service for the City of Dallas.

“This particular investigation has netted six convictions to date,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “We expect elected officials to be absolutely fastidious with money they receive as a result of their official position. When public officials behave unscrupulously, North Texas can count on federal prosecutors to intervene. We hope officials will heed our commitment to exposing corruption in any form it takes, and act accordingly.”

According to plea papers, between 2012 and 2016, Mr. Duncan accepted nearly a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions from Force Multiplier Solutions president Robert Leonard, who happened to be pursuing lucrative stop-arm camera contracts with DCS.

Instead of putting Mr. Leonard’s money towards legitimate campaign expenses associated with his DCS re-election bid, Mr. Duncan admits he used at least $184,726.03 for personal benefit, taking out cash withdrawals, passing on money to his wife, and even using funds to pay car-related expenses.

He then failed to disclose the money he diverted from the campaign on his tax returns, hiding the income from the IRS.

Mr. Duncan’s campaign contributor, Mr. Leonard, along with former Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, after the DCS investigation revealed that Mr. Leonard had funneled over $3 million in bribes to Caraway and Dallas County Schools Superintendent Ricky Sorrells. Mr. Sorrells pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Another defendant, Slater Swartwood, who operated the shell companies used to conceal the bribes, admitted in December 2017 to conspiring to launder money.

Dallas County Schools, an agency that collected property taxes to fund its fleet of around 2,000 buses, was shuttered in November 2017, saddled with approximately $103 million in debt.

The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit (IRS-CI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Wirmani,  NDTX’s Public Corruption Coordinator, Marcus Busch, and Chad Meacham prosecuted the case.

Public Corruption
Erin Dooley, Public Affairs Officer 214-659-8707
Updated April 9, 2019