North Texas

Records Raise New Questions About Dwaine Caraway's Ties to Men at Center of Dallas County Schools Investigation

Records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates raise new questions about Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway and his relationship with two men at the center of the FBI corruption investigation at Dallas County Schools.

The records seem to contradict statements Caraway made in an interview two weeks ago, when he said he knew of no business ties between Robert Leonard, and Leonard's associate, Slater Swartwood Sr., and was not associated with DCS dealings.

Now, the normally affable councilman was remaining silent on the subject, saying he'd been lectured by a close family member to no longer talk to NBC 5 Investigates about Swartwood, Leonard or anyone else involved in the financial collapse at DCS.

It's becoming an increasingly touchy subject, as emails, campaign contributions to City Council races, and past comments from Caraway himself, show that the players in the DCS financial collapse were also interested in DCH – Dallas City Hall.

Mayor Mike Rawlings told NBC 5 Investigates he'd met cordially with Leonard on two separate occasions and even wrote a letter praising the Louisiana businessman, thinking it would get to the "handler" of a crown prince who could bring royal money into the Dallas economy.

Rawlings told NBC 5 Investigates that, with the exception of the misguided letter, he never acted on any of Leonard's ideas to bring business to Dallas, and now regrets having any association with him.

At least one e-mail indicates that Caraway's involvement with Leonard, as well as with Swartwood, seemed more extensive.

Financial disclosure reports show Caraway, while on the Dallas City Council, worked for Swartwood's company as a "consultant," and was paid at least $50,000 during a two-year period to help find real estate for the company to buy in south Dallas.

In his last interview with NBC 5 Investigates, Caraway acknowledged working for Swartwood's company, and added that the company, separately, loaned his family $20,000.

Caraway also said he knew Leonard, but did not know he was an associate of Swartwood when he worked for Swartwood's company.

As part of the ongoing investigation at Dallas County Schools, Swartwood in December pleaded guilty to a federal charge of money laundering, admitting he funneled bribes and kickbacks to a top DCS official.

Those bribes, according to the government, came from a company operated by Leonard, prompting the FBI to serve search warrants at his home and at his business.

Leonard, who has not been charged with a crime, has told NBC 5 Investigates he is not to blame for the problems – and for the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars – in failed business deals in which his company, Force Multiplier Solutions, equipped millions of dollars in surveillance cameras on DCS school buses.

In his interview with NBC 5 Investigates last month, Caraway insisted he was paid to work only for Swartwood – not Leonard – and had no involvement with DCS or Force Multiplier.

"Everybody knows everybody … but to delve into (that) they have an additional relationship over here, I'm not the one to know that," he said of Leonard and Swartwood.

NBC 5 Investigates has since obtained a 2014 email, from Leonard to Caraway, which says the city of Dallas rejected DCS's efforts to purchase an eight-and-a-half-acre plot of city-owned property near Fair Park.

Leonard simply typed, "??????," appearing to question Caraway on why the city turned down the DCS proposal.

Leonard's email to Caraway included a copy of an email from Swartwood, who was expressing his frustration that the city would not accept DCS's offer, saying, "…in the 40 plus years in the real estate business, I have never been so frustrated or dealt with this kind of behavior."

Swartwood's email was to Rick Sorrells, the DCS superintendent, with both Leonard and Caraway copied on it.

DCS apparently wanted the property, according to the email, for a new school bus maintenance facility, where Leonard's company planned to lease 100,000-square feet of office space.

The city turned down DCS's offer because it had different plans for the property, which remains vacant, according to the city real estate official who dealt with Swartwood, and who has since retired.

NBC 5 Investigates was not provided with anything that indicates whether Caraway responded to Leonard's email, or even saw it. He also did not respond when NBC 5 sent a copy of the email to his city-issued email address.

Caraway declined multiple requests for comment for this story – a considerable contrast from two weeks ago, when he talked to NBC 5 Investigates about his dealings with Swartwood, saying he would never "run" from questions.

"I'm a welcoming voice," he said at the time, adding, "The only thing you can do is tell the truth. Tell the truth (and) you have no fear."

But when NBC 5 Investigates caught up with Caraway earlier this week at City Hall, he walked away, wagging his finger and declaring: "My mother told me not to talk to you anymore."

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