3/26/2019Wife Of Camera Company CEO Involved In Bribery Scandal
Dallas County, Texas wants ex-wife of school bus ticket camera company CEO to pay for alleged role in $185 million bribery scandal.
The ex-wife of a school bus camera company CEO will be held accountable for her alleged role in ripping off taxpayers in Dallas, Texas. County Judge Eric Moye on Friday ruled that Margaret Leonard will have to turn over evidence to the committee charged with clawing back some of the $185 million lost as a result of the stop arm camera scandal that took down Dallas County Schools (DCS).
"Margaret Leonard and the other conspiracy defendants were part and parcel of a conspiracy to defraud Dallas County Schools and its taxpayers through a complicated scheme of bribes and kickbacks to Dallas and Texas politicians, some of whom who have pled guilty to federal charges arising out of the same conspiracy," attorney Christopher L. Harbin wrote in court briefs.
Harbin represents the committee that formed last year to shut down DCS and sue the perpetrators at Force Multiplier Solutions (whose IP assets were acquired by BusPatrol) along with anyone else who assisted the kickback scheme. Force Multiplier CEO Robert Leonard was the mastermind behind the bribery plot, but the committee also wants to go after Margaret Leonard's assets because of her apparent involvement. Checks in her name were written to DCS president Larry Duncan, who admitted taking bribes. She gave $5000 to state Representative Ramon Romero (D-Fort Worth), $7000 to California secretary of state Alex Padilla (D) and $5000 to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards (D). In an April 6, 2015, email, Duncan told Robert Leonard how much campaign cash was expected in each Dallas city council race. Linda Leonard's signature (she used her middle name) is on $1000 checks for each name listed.
"Please make all checks out to the candidate's name plus the word 'campaign,'" Duncan wrote. "Individual campaign contribution limit is $1000... We discussed the following amounts."
The email lists $3000 for unopposed city council candidates Adam Medrano, Scott Griggs and Philip T. Kingston. Candidates in contested races would receive $5000, including Tiffani A. Young, Mark Clayton, Gail Terrell, Carolyn King Arnold and Joe Tave. Duncan then added $3000 for Monica R. Alonzo and $5000 for Sherry Cordova.
"I simply overlooked Alonzo when we last talked," Duncan wrote. "She is a friend and would be hurt if we left her out and she found out about the others."
Even though Margaret Leonard did not work for Force Multiplier, the company paid the mortgage on her $1.6 million "resort like estate" on Royal Lane in Dallas (pictured). She also received over $50,000 in payments from the company over two months. Shortly after Margaret Leonard filed for divorce on November 8, 2017, many of Robert Leonard's assets were transferred into her name. Harbin argued the divorce was a ploy to shield those assets.
As a resident of Louisiana, Margaret Leonard insists the Texas court has no jurisdiction over her. She also says the campaign checks signed in her name were not authorized.
"I didn't write this check," Margaret Leonard explained in a deposition earlier this month. "That's not my handwriting."
The primary purpose of Dallas County Schools was operating the school bus service, but it decided to pay $25 million to Force Multiplier for the exclusive right to market and sell school bus cameras to other Texas school districts. The scheme failed to make the promised return, and debt spiraled out of control. DCS and Leonard cooked up a complicated real estate deal to raise funds, which only drove DCS deeper in debt. Investigative journalists at KXAS-TV exposed the plot after noticing the campaign cash flowing from Force Multiplier to camera boosters on the council.
A hearing on the motion to dismiss the case is set for May 2.
Note: This article has been updated.