Feds Allege $3M in Bribes, Kickbacks Paid to Top DCS Official

Allegations detailed in guilty plea of man accused of money laundering conspiracy

For the first time, federal prosecutors have lifted the veil on their investigation into the financial demise of the Dallas County Schools agency.

The new revelations, in court documents, detail a plea deal with New Orleans businessman Slater Swartwood Sr.

Prosecutors allege he was the middle man in a scheme that funneled millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from a school bus camera company — to a top DCS official — in exchange for business deals with that government agency.

The DCS official, who is not identified in the federal complaint, received more than $3 million dollars in bribes and kickbacks in all — money that even paid portions of his credit card debts and his son's student loans, according to the federal complaint.

Prosecutors say in the document: "The co-conspirators also spent a significant amount of time discussing how to get their stories straight so they could explain the paper trail left by the multi-year bribery scheme they had engaged in."

While the documents do not name the DCS superintendent, Rick Sorrells was the superintendent during the time the camera contracts were signed.

And Robert Leonard was the top executive at the camera company, Force Multiplier Solutions.

As NBC5 Investigates has reported, Sorrells and Leonard had a personal relationship — sharing side-by-side apartments in a luxury building in the New Orleans French Quarter.

Sorrells still denied any wrongdoing when we caught up with him in New Orleans earlier this year.

When NBC5 Investigates asked who was paying for the apartment, Sorrells said, "I am."

And when asked if Leonard was involved in getting the apartment, Sorrells said, “No he’s not.”

Through his attorney, Leonard has said he did nothing wrong, disagreed with the government’s view of the case, and that more facts will come to light.

Swartwood also denied any wrongdoing when NBC5 Investigates reached him in New Orleans earlier this year.

We wanted to talk to Swartwood after discovering he received $750,000 from a questionable Dallas County Schools land deal — a deal he admitted he became involved with through Leonard, a long time business associate of his.

Documents in the land deal listed Swartwood as the broker, though he has said that, instead, he was a real estate consultant for DCS.

"Bob Leonard is going to answer that question today," he said at the time, when asked about the land transaction.

Swartwood also told NBC5 Investigates that Leonard suggested he become part of the land deal, "Because of my background. I'm a consultant for him..."

Attorneys for Swartwood and Sorrells did not respond to requests for comment for this report. And Leonard’s lawyer said he would need more time to review the complaint against Swartwood.

Court papers show Swartwood has now agreed to plead guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges, and will testify for prosecutors in a deal that caps the maximum sentence at five years in prison, if convicted.

Read more: Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Investigating DCS

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