DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Rickey Dale Sorrells, 62, of Dallas, was charged for his role in receiving more than $3 million in bribe and kickback payments to help secure more than $70 million in contracts, agreements, and orders, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.
The criminal felony Information filed today charges Sorrells with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Signed plea papers were also filed indicating Sorrells’ intent to plead guilty. Sorrells faces a maximum penalty of imprisonment not to exceed twenty years and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. An arraignment date was not yet set.
According to the filed Information and plea papers, from 2011 through 2017, the president of a technology company (Person A) that put cameras on school buses, paid Sorrells, the superintendent of Dallas County Schools (DCS), in excess of $3 million in bribe and kickback payments in exchange for favorable official action, including Sorrells’ decision to enter into contracts and licensing agreements on behalf of DCS and to purchase school-bus-camera equipment.
Payments made to Sorrells were funneled through various pass-through companies created and operated by his business associate, Slater Washburn Swartwood, Sr., as well as through a law firm. An account in the name of a nonexistent company was created to conceal payments that were made toward Sorrells’ credit card debt. To further disguise the bribe and kickback payments, Sorrells received a portion of the payments through shell companies which, at the behest of Person A, he created in his and/or a family member’s name(s).
In an effort to obscure the illegal purpose of the payments, according to documents filed in the case, Sorrells and others created fake consulting agreements, fake invoices, a fake real estate business, fake loan documents, discussed tying all past payments from Person A to Sorrells to the “note,” conspired to have Sorrells begin making payments on the “loan,” after which Person A would “recycle” the money back to Sorrells, and created a document with a narrative to ensure that they all had their stories straight.