DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The committee overseeing the shutdown of Dallas County Schools has filed a lawsuit claiming the bus agency was the victim of racketeering and fraud worth $125 million.
The suit, filed last Friday in Dallas County, named 15 defendants, including its former Superintendent, Dr. Rick Sorrells, former Board President Larry Duncan, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, and some of the firms that did business with the agency.
Dallas County Schools had transported tens of thousands of students each day for Dallas ISD and other school districts in the county.
But after allegations of fraud surfaced, and the district was going broke, voters last November decided to shut the agency for good.
The school districts are now transporting their own students.
Stephanie Curtis, attorney for the Dissolution Committee for the former Board of Trustees of Dallas County Schools said, “It’s an important lawsuit to Dallas County.”
At the center of the lawsuit, the Dallas County School’s $70 million program for Dallas County Schools cameras added to its buses.
The lawsuit says it involved “bribes, illegal campaign contributions, and kickbacks, and that the scheme involved scores of individuals, entities, and shell corporations that all had the purpose of bilking Dallas County Schools of more than $125,000,000 in taxpayer money.”
And when the district couldn’t afford to pay the debt for the cameras, the lawsuit says Sorrells helped orchestrate a land deal surrounding its bus service centers that cost it tens of millions of dollars more.
Curtis said, “The point of this lawsuit is again to recover taxpayer dollars and revenue, and put it back into the counties and the ISD’s. So of course, we’re going to work with prosecutors.”
Court records show Sorrells pleaded guilty in April to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit honest services wired fraud.
According to the lawsuit, Duncan received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from some of the firms involved in the deals, including some he didn’t disclose.
The lawsuit also questions Caraway’s advocacy for the stop-arm program’s extension at city council.
Neither Caraway nor Duncan has been charged with a crime.
Curtis said the group of defendants, “Were all in positions to influence this program and the money spent for this program going forward.”
We went to Duncan’s and Sorrells’ homes Tuesday, but no one came to the door at either place.
Caraway was out of town Tuesday and did not return calls to his cell phone and office at City Hall.