What to Know
- Larry Duncan entered into a plea deal, admitting to tax evasion.
- Duncan could spend up to one year in federal prison.
- Duncan will learn his sentence Tuesday morning.
Larry Duncan, the former board president of Dallas County Schools, is sentenced to six months of home confinement and three years of probation after pleading guilty to tax evasion in the Dallas County Schools criminal conspiracy.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn announced the sentence Tuesday after about an hour of testimony.
Upon reading the sentence, Judge Lynn told Duncan "You were lucky with the result here," saying she couldn't act on suspicion and could only rule on one tax evasion charge brought by federal prosecutors.
Duncan, who led the DCS board for a decade and, before that, served four terms as a Dallas City Council member, had faced the possible max sentence of up to a year in federal prison — a term agreed upon in a plea deal.
"I have embarrassed and humiliated my family, my friends and my constituents and for that I am sincerely sorry," Duncan told the judge.
Duncan, who once also ran for county judge and Dallas mayor, is one of several once-powerful men who have been swept up by the corruption investigation, including former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, who last week was sentenced to 56 months in federal prison Friday after admitting he took bribes in the DCS scandal.
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"It's not the best headline. It's not bribery and kickbacks. It's tax evasion, but that's where we are at," Duncan's lawyer told the courtroom, saying his client is different from other DCS defendants because he is not accused of any charge related to bribery.
"I have never met anyone as dedicated to serving people as Larry Duncan," testified Michael Jung, Duncan's longtime friend and former DCS board attorney. "He listened to the people in Joppa and came to our meetings when others would not," said a second witness for Duncan.
NBC 5 Investigates was the first to report that Duncan received the vast majority of his campaign funds, almost $250,000, from people tied to Force Multiplier Solutions, the company DCS partnered with on a school bus camera deal that went bust and put the agency in dire financial straits.
The deal ultimately cost taxpayers $100 million and resulted in the demise of DCS.
When NBC 5 Investigates first questioned Duncan about the contributions to his campaign, he insisted they were on the up and up.
“Every penny is open, honest, legal and ethical,” Duncan said at the time, adding that he wouldn't stand for his reputation being questioned and that he'd been in public service for two decades.
But he later admitted to the FBI and federal prosecutors that he used more than $180,000 of the funds for personal expenses and did not pay taxes on that money.
The man who gave Duncan the bulk of those campaign donations, Robert Leonard, the owner of camera provider Force Multiplier Solutions, has also pleaded guilty in the corruption probe.
Leonard has admitted to bribing former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells and Caraway in order to secure the lucrative bus camera deals with DCS.
Leonard and Sorrells, who has also admitted to taking bribes, are scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.