SAN ANTONIO (Texas News Radio) — A Dallas city councilman and mayor pro tem has pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a case that prosecutors say destroyed a major school bus system.
Dwaine Caraway, who gained national attention earlier this year when he suggested the NRA cancel its convention in Dallas, and Robert Leonard, owner of Force Multiplier Solutions, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest service wire fraud. Caraway additionally pleaded guilty to tax evasion.
U.S. Attorney for North Texas Erin Nealy Cox stated at a news conference Thursday morning that Caraway and Leonard worked with former Dallas County Schools superintendent Rick Sorrells and other Force Multiplier Solutions associates, who both pleaded guilty to their crimes earlier this year.
Nealy Cox said the conspiracy happened between 2011 and 2017, during which time Force Multiplier Solutions paid Caraway and Sorrells a combined $3.5 million in exchange for favorable official actions.
“Caraway and Sorrells used these funds to, among other things, repay personal loans, acquire luxury clothing, fund personal trips to Las Vegas and New Orleans and provide gambling money,” Nealy Cox explained.
Leonard paid Sorrells more than $3 million. In exchange, Sorrells entered into contracts and licensing agreements between Dallas County Schools and Force Multiplier Solutions, including millions of dollars worth of camera equipment that would never end up being used, kept in a warehouse.
Leonard paid Caraway over $450,000 in bribes, kickbacks and other benefits. Nealy Cox said Caraway would ask Leonard for money and Leonard would oblige. In return, Caraway voted pushed for initiatives benefiting Force Multiplier Solutions, like a City of Dallas resolution permitting stop-arm cameras in 2012 and pressuring the city attorney to offer a favorable opinion about fines issued through the system.
Nealy Cox said Caraway also pleaded guilty to tax evasion for not reporting the income he received from Leonard from 2012 to 2014.
Because of these actions, Dallas County Schools ended up paying over $70 million to Force Multiplier Solutions for the stop-arm camera system. It led to little revenue and put the school bus system into a dire financial situation.
“Dallas County Schools was left bankrupt by the agreements entered into with Force Multiplier,” Nealy Cox stated. “In November of 2017, voters of Dallas County abolished the organization founded in 1876 due to reports of financial mismanagement and safety concerns. Dallas County Schools ceased operations on July 31st, just over a week ago.”
Nealy Cox said many of these payments were made in ways to disguise their intended purposes. Some were made through shell companies to facilitate the funds. Other times, Leonard would write checks to “cash” and Caraway would negotiate with them at pawn shops and liquor stores.
“This case highlights how devastating, unethical and illegal influence over public officials can be to our citizens,” the prosecutor said. “An entire public entity relied upon by parents and schoolchildren alike was destroyed in the wake of this scandal. A day of reckoning was surely needed.”
Caraway could face seven years in prison.