A New Orleans man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
It’s a case that may have implications for Dallas County Schools, the soon-to-be-defunct agency that provides bus services for most school districts in Dallas County.
Slater Swartwood, Sr. was a long-time consultant with links to Force Multiplier Solutions, the company that sold millions of dollars in cameras and technology to Dallas County Schools. The debt payment on the cameras is largely responsible for the dire financial situation at DCS.
An investigation ordered by DCS showed that its own bus camera system was a financial disaster, putting the agency millions of dollars in debt.
Swartwood has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. No one else is named in the federals filings, but the DCS investigation found that "there is also potential for a federal investigation related to certain statements attributed to Dr. Rick Sorrells (the district superintendent), and others, regarding Force Multiplier Solutions."
Dallas attorney Cody Skipper does not represent anyone in this case but says the filings read like indictments against named defendants could soon be coming.
"I believe they are imminent. I mean, it's laying everything out here,” he said. “The superintendent should be concerned, should be very concerned because of this under the way it's been alleged."
According to the federal filings, Swartwood’s alleged scheme included bribery, kickbacks and access to tens of millions of dollars in government contracts.
Court documents say, "during the money laundering conspiracy, person A paid person B over $3 million in bribes and kickbacks, including paying a portion of person B’s credit card debt and student loan debt arising from his son's college tuition."
"As a public official, you owe a fiduciary duty to the public, to the taxpayers to do what's in the best interest of the public — not what's in the best interest of you,” Skipper said.
The filing goes on to say, “to further disguise and conceal the source and purpose of the bribe and kickback payments from person A to person B, the co-conspirators, at various points during the money laundering conspiracy, created sham loan, consulting or real estate agreements in an attempt to make the payments to person b appear legitimate."
Skipper says Swartswood appears to have cut a solid deal in exchange for being a key witness for federal prosecutors.
"Had he plead guilty to a money laundering, there would have been a maximum of 20 years in prison,” the attorney explained.” To do it as a federal conspiracy, under federal law it was capped at five years. So this is a very good deal and, certainly, he will be cooperating."
It's important to point at that no one at Force Multiplier Solutions or Dallas County Schools has been charged with a crime. But as part of Swartwood's guilty plea, he will have to cooperate with the federal government's investigation that is still going on.