A critical analysis, withheld for months by the former administrators of the Dallas County Schools bus agency, has now been released to NBC 5 Investigates, suggesting crimes were committed in a deal that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The author of the report, former FBI agent Dennis Brady, didn't mince words, stating that
"ignorance" ... "incompetence" ... "negligence," and possibly "criminal conduct" contributed to the financial woes for the school bus agency.
The internal report, written last spring, was commissioned by the former board members for Dallas County Schools, in an attempt to determine whether crimes were committed in dealings between DCS and Force Multiplier Solutions, the company hired to equip school buses with security cameras.
"In our opinion, suitable predication may exist to support a potential federal investigation for ... 'program fraud' ... 'wire fraud'... 'mail fraud,' as well as related sections of the Texas Criminal Code," the report said.
The analysis goes beyond the central figures in the controversial dealings: former DCS superintendent Rick Sorrells, former board president Larry Duncan and Robert Leonard, owner of the camera company.
It also looks at other board members and DCS staff who may have received money from Force Multiplier, through Duncan, who received nearly a quarter of a million dollars in donations from people tied to the company. Duncan donated some of that money to other board members.
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"All members of the DCS board who received a share of these campaign contributions ... may be exposed to allegations of conspiracy," the report said.
Brady, who has since left the FBI and runs a private consulting company, was in his report critical of Duncan, who recently resigned from the board.
He said that documents he uncovered suggested Duncan was "opposed to ethics rules for public officials," and objected "to public disclosure requirements likely intended to prevent potential conflicts of interests for public officials."
Duncan, who could not be reached for comment for this report, has in the past told NBC 5 Investigates that all campaign donations he'd received were legal and ethical.
The report also said DCS officials may have made false statements while they tried to market the cameras to other school districts — actions the former FBI agent says may constitute wire and mail fraud.
Reached by phone, Leonard told NBC 5 Investigates that mismanagement by DCS officials was the only reason the camera program failed. He said neither he, nor his company, did anything wrong.
Sorrells could not be reached for comment, but has previously said he also did nothing wrong.
A lot has happened since the study was completed.
Multiple state and federal investigations have begun, with the FBI executing search warrants at Force Multiplier offices in downtown Dallas and at Robert Leonard's home near New Orleans.
And DCS's board of directors held its final meeting earlier this week, days after frustrated Dallas County voters chose to shut down the century-old agency and return buses and several hundred crossing guards to North Texas school districts.
The school bus agency has for months attempted to keep the report secret, even after the Texas Attorney General's Office ruled that it was public information, and should be released to NBC 5.
The agency, at taxpayer expense, even sued the AG's office to block the release of the report.
But with the former board gone, Alan King, the new chief executive officer of the state-appointed committee overseeing the closure of the agency, said the report is something the public should know about.
King told NBC 5 Investigates that he hadn't even shared the report with the committee yet, but wanted to "make sure we are transparent, and hope we respond better in the future."