The former CEO of a company that supplied school-bus cameras to the County pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud last month, but that won’t stop school buses from being outfitted with cameras.
Robert C. Leonard, Jr., former CEO of Force Multiplier Solutions, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern Division of Texas, dated Aug. 9. Montgomery County Public Schools previously hired Force Multiplier Solutions to supply cameras for its school buses.
Leonard is a native of New Orleans.
“MCPS has a contract with the county and with a company called Bus Patrol America. Bus Patrol America actually purchased all the assets of Force Multiplier Solutions,” MCPS spokesperson Derek Turner said.
MCPS Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith said the purpose of the cameras is to help Montgomery County Police enforce school bus traffic violations, or when drivers pass a school bus that is stopped with its stop arm out, which will help keep students safe.
Turner said Leonard’s plea is separate from Bus Patrol America’s installation of cameras on all County school buses.
“It seems the CEO [of Force Multiplier Solutions] was investigated by the FBI for their action, [not the company or equipment],” Turner said. “We’re really focused on the equipment itself.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation investigated charges against Leonard, who ultimately pleaded guilty. Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway of Dallas, Texas also pleaded guilty in early August.
Leonard paid Caraway more than $450,000 in bribe and kickback payments, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern Division of Texas. Leonard said he gave the former Dallas County Schools Superintendent Rick Sorrells more than $3 million in bribes and kickback payments.
News media have reported that Dallas County Schools supplied transportation to several county school districts; it was not a school district itself.
Sorrells pleaded guilty in April for his role in the conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern Division of Texas.
“Today’s guilty pleas are the results of a sensitive and complex investigation conducted by FBI Dallas’ Public Corruption Investigative Team with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service. The conspirators used their position of access and financial means to defraud the citizens of Dallas County,” said Eric K. Jackson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas Division, about Leonard’s and Caraway’s guilty pleas. “The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate any public servant who abuses their official position and access to benefit themselves financially at the taxpayer’s expense.”
Turner said the camera that helped lead to arrest of the MCPS bus driver in connection with second-degree rape of a child receiving special-education services in August was probably supplied by Bus Patrol America.
MCPS will receive school-bus cameras regardless of Leonard’s guilty plea because of its contract with Bus Patrol America, Turner said.
All county school buses will have cameras inside and outside by the end of the school year.
The Board of Education approved a supplemental appropriation of funds to Bus Patrol America during a business meeting on June 25. Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith wrote in a memorandum to the Board that MCPS entered into a contract with Bus Patrol America back in 2016, when it was Force Multiplier Solutions. A memorandum of understanding for implementation of the program was also on record between MCPS and Montgomery County.
MCPS Board of Education chairman Michael Durso said Tuesday he is aware of the charge against Leonard.
“We are aware of that situation and our transportation department and legal office has kept us apprised of that,” Durso said.
“It was an internal situation that obviously has had some legal ramifications but with my understanding we’re comfortable with the adjustments that we’ve made, and we’ll go forward with the new company,” Durso added.