8/29/2018Feds Seize Cars, Cash From Corrupt Bus Camera CEO
Federal judge orders confiscation of Bentley Continental owned by the CEO of a bus stop arm camera company.
School bus cameras fueled the luxurious lifestyle of the top executive at Force Multiplier Solutions for years. On Monday, US District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn issued a forfeiture order forcing Robert Carl Leonard Jr to give up the trappings of wealth he accumulated with an automated system for ticketing motorists driving near school buses.
Leonard will lose title to a 2008 Bentley Continental GT, a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and $738,167 in cash stored in various bank accounts. Agents had already seized seven neo-Expressionist paintings by artist David Harouni earlier this year along with an assortment of diamonds and jewelry.
At the beginning of the month, Leonard entered a guilty plea for his use of bribes to convince Dallas, Texas, officials to install his stop arm cameras on school buses. He gave a total of $3 million to Dallas County Schools superintendent Ricky Dale Sorrells, who admitted his guilt in April. Dallas city councilman Dwaine Caraway conceded that he took $450,000 in bribes to promote photo enforcement and browbeat the city attorney into issue an opinion affirming the controversial program's legality. Other politicians involved in the scheme have yet to be charged.
Leonard ultimately extracted $70 million from Dallas County Schools, bankrupting the agency and forcing voters to shut it down in a referendum.
Despite the scandal, Force Multiplier Solutions survives under the name BusPatrol, with several cities continuing to do business with the firm as if nothing had happened. Montgomery County, Maryland, officials traveled to Dallas to strike a bus ticketing deal with Sorrells and Leonard in 2015. As the Maryland Drivers Alliance noted, Montgomery County police captain Thomas Didone now allows his face to be used in advertisements for BusPatrol. Prior to the installation of the cameras, no school children were struck by passing cars in the county -- the alleged purpose for the program. Many instead were struck by the school bus itself, mirroring national trends.
Under Leonard's plea deal, the former photo enforcement executive faces up to ten years in jail and three years of probation. The government may also seize twice the money he made from his crime as restitution. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 14.