NBC 5 Investigates has learned The Texas Rangers and the FBI are asking questions about the financial crisis at Dallas County Schools.
The Texas Rangers, an elite state law enforcement agency that investigates public corruption cases, among other things, said they’re reviewing documents turned over by DCS and that there is "currently no additional information available."
DCS confirmed one of the documents provided to the Rangers is a report detailing an internal investigation conducted by a former FBI agent DCS hired to look into whether crimes contributed to the agency's financial crisis.
In May, Texas Rep. Lance Gooden called on DCS to contact law enforcement after NBC 5 Investigates uncovered a questionable DCS land deal involving millions of taxpayer dollars.
"I would pick up the phone, maybe tomorrow, and call other law enforcement folks tomorrow and ask them to come and do a quick audit -- if you have nothing to do with what's developed," Gooden said during a hearing at the capitol last month.
One day after Gooden’s comments, in May DCS interim superintendent Leather Mullins told NBC 5 Investigates she would contact law enforcement. Mullins later said she’d contacted law enforcement, though she declined to say who, and then added that she invited former state auditor John Keel to implement a corrective action plan that includes new policies and procedures to strengthen the agency’s operating control environment.
Sources familiar with the situation at DCS told NBC 5 Investigates that the FBI is also gathering information about the financial problems at DCS, though the FBI will not confirm or deny an investigation is underway.
For months, NBC 5 Investigates has questioned how DCS, an agency more than 100-years-old and funded by a steady stream of taxpayer funding, would wind up in such dire financial straits.
Just two weeks ago DCS defaulted on its debt payments, raising concerns about whether the agency has enough cash to survive.
"Investigators have an antennae and that antennae is twitching right now," said Matt Orwig, a former U.S. Attorney who said he expects the FBI to have questions. "It's a very natural situation for them to jump into. You have large losses that are unexplained, you have public officials and you have large amounts of federal money and state money involved. Taxpayer dollars."
Orwig said we should not expect to see the situation resolved quickly because public corruption inquiries can take months or even years.
Additionally, the FBI looking into the situation does not necessarily mean anyone will be charged. At this point, it's just too early to say.