DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Larry Duncan, the former president of now defunct bus transportation agency Dallas County Schools (DCS), will serve probation for tax evasion.
Duncan is one of five people charged in the corruption case that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
Duncan had faced up to 12 months in federal prison, but on Tuesday was given a punishment of three years probation. The sentence will start with six months of confinement at home.
Duncan, who is also a former City Council member, did not respond to requests for comment after the ruling. But in court, he apologized and said he takes full responsibility for what he has done.
It was last fall when Duncan confessed to not paying taxes on some of the nearly $250,000 he received from bus camera vendor Force Multiplier Solutions.
The federal investigation into conspiracy and kickback allegations at DCS led to the shutdown of the agency and prosecutors called Duncan’s role in the scheme an abuse of trust.
“We expect elected officials to be absolutely fastidious with money they receive as a result of their official position,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “When public officials behave unscrupulously, North Texas can count on federal prosecutors to intervene.”
Unlike former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells and other defendants in the case, Duncan was only charged with tax evasion.
Prosecutors had wanted Duncan, 73, to go to prison after he admitted his guilt and while U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn said she is suspicious that Duncan was involved in bribery, she said prosecutors did not show proof of that and she was confined to rule on the tax evasion charge alone.
“The judge did say that she was suspicious about the charges that had been brought and perhaps that wasn’t all the charges that should have been brought. We don’t know,” said retired DCS transportation director Mike Williams. “But I, like the judge, am suspicious.”
There were other factors that also influenced the decision to grant Duncan probation. Judge Lynn said Duncan has some very serious health problems that would have been difficult to manage in prison.
As part of his punishment, Duncan must also pay more than $45,000 that he owes in income taxes and perform community service within the City of Dallas or Dallas schools.