Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway (D) pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges Thursday morning, said Erin Nealy Cox, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
In a press conference, Cox announced Caraway, 66, was part of a scheme that bankrupted Dallas County Schools (DCS), a bus agency, along with businessman Bob Leonard, who owned the surveillance company that took millions from DCS. She said Leonard paid Caraway and Rick Sorrells, the former DCS superintendent, more than $3.5 million in bribes, kickbacks, and other benefits. In April, Sorrells pleaded guilty to accepting more than $3 million.
Caraway, the second most powerful official at Dallas City Hall, resigned from his seat on the city council Thursday effective immediately, said Cox. He pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy, wire fraud, and tax evasion. She said each charge carries a sentence of five years in federal prison. For his cooperation, the legal parties agreed to 84 months imprisonment. Leonard was charged with one count of conspiracy.
WFAA reported that Caraway admitted to taking more than $450,000 in bribes, kickbacks, and other benefits in exchange for city council votes favoring Leonard’s camera company, Force Multiplier Solutions, which sought to work with DCS as part of a stop-arm-camera program, according to documents filed in Dallas federal court Thursday morning. Allegedly, the bribes and kickbacks began in 2011. Cox said Caraway failed to report the money for income tax purposes.
Caraway surrendered Thursday and was booked into jail. Cox said his sentencing is set for mid-December.
Breitbart Texas reported that Caraway was instrumental in pushing for the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Dallas. Earlier this year, he demanded the NRA cancel holding its 2018 convention in Dallas.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) released a statement late Thursday over social media commenting on Caraway’s guilty plea and resignation earlier in the day.
“I have not yet reviewed the public details of the case. Therefore, I will not be making any public comments today beyond this statement,” wrote Rawlings, who said he learned of these developments on Thursday morning.
“As your mayor, I am saddened by what we learned today and the actions of one of my former colleagues. I am sad for the city, especially the citizens of District 4, and for Mr. Caraway’s friend, family, and supporters.”
Rawlings noted that Caraway “championed much good” during his time in public service, notably for Dallas youths. He appreciated Caraway admitted his crimes “sparing the city what could have been a drawn out legal battle.”
The mayor stated, “More than 12,000 people work for the City of Dallas. Almost every one of them serves honorably and ethically – and never make the news. This city is so much bigger than any on politician who lost his way.”
My statement regarding Dwaine Caraway. pic.twitter.com/Aixpczjk3Z
— Mike Rawlings (@Mike_Rawlings) August 9, 2018
In 2014, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, often an adversary of Caraway, was arrested following an FBI investigation where he was indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges. He stood accused of taking $950,000 in bribes over a 10-year period from businesses seeking Dallas County contracts. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. In 2017, a jury found him not guilty on seven counts but failed to reach a verdict on four related to tax evasion. Federal prosecutors announced they would not retry Price on those four charges.
Earlier, U.S. Attorney Cox called the Caraway case “both reckoning and reconciliation for the city of Dallas and its citizens. She underscored, “Honest services fraud is when someone uses deceit to deprive the public of their right to honest and hair representation by public officials.”
In a letter of resignation, Caraway wrote, in part, “Over the past several weeks, through a lot of prayer and soul searching, I have decided I must take responsibility for my actions. I have dedicated much of my life to serving others, but I have never claimed to be without sin. I am truly sorry that I must end my career as an elected official because I betrayed the public’s trust that I worked so very hard to earn.”
A native of Dallas, Caraway served as District 4 councilman from 2007 to 2015, whereupon he reached the term limit. Following a required two year break, Caraway ran for his old seat and won in 2017. In 2011, he became the city’s interim mayor during the period when then-Mayor Tom Leppert resigned and before current Mayor Mike Rawlings was elected.
This is a developing story.
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