Nonprofit Owner Pleads Guilty in Public Corruption Scheme
A local nonprofit owner has pleaded guilty to his role in a public corruption scandal, admitting he funneled bribes from real estate developer Ruel Hamilton to former Dallas City Council Member Carolyn Davis, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Jeremy Scroggins, 44, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, or concealing knowledge of the actual commission of a felony, before Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn on Tuesday.
“As I have said from the start of my tenure as U.S. Attorney, North Texas will not and cannot tolerate public corruption at any level,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “Mr. Scroggins facilitated bribe payments, and must be held accountable. ”
“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities. It is often a multilayered scheme that extends much further from our elected officials,” said Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Office. “We are committed to investigating all levels of these deceptive schemes, including individuals like Mr. Scroggins who facilitate bribes.”
In plea papers, Mr. Scroggins, the owner of nonprofit Hip Hop Government (HHG), admits that Mr. Hamilton repeatedly wrote checks payable to Mr. Scroggins or HH, but these payments were generally meant for Ms. Davis.
Mr. Scroggins – who knew the payments were intended to influence the councilwoman’s official actions on Mr. Hamilton’s housing projects – admits that he cashed Mr. Hamilton’s checks and transferred the funds to Ms. Davis in cash without alerting authorities.
The late Ms. Davis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in March and was set to be sentenced September 20. Mr. Hamilton was charged with bribery in February, and has entered a plea of not guilty. Like all defendants, Mr. Hamilton is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. His trial is slated for January 6, 2020.
“We were shocked to hear of Ms. Davis’ tragic passing, and our sympathies go out to her family, friends, and former constituents,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “Ms. Davis took responsibility for her conduct and she never wavered in her desire to make things right. We are confident justice will be served in all our public corruption cases.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marcus Busch, Andrew Wirmani, and Chad Meacham are prosecuting the case.