A Controversial Donor to La. Gov. John Bel Edwards Is Still in Hot Water | NTK Network A Controversial Donor to La. Gov. John Bel Edwards Is Still in Hot Water

A Controversial Donor to La. Gov. John Bel Edwards Is Still in Hot Water

During Edwards’ first run for governor, Robert Leonard maxed out to the Democrat. That donor has since admitted to being the mastermind of a bribery scheme involving the Dallas County Public Schools.

By NTK Staff | 04.10.2019 @8:30am
A Controversial Donor to La. Gov. John Bel Edwards Is Still in Hot Water

John Bel Edwards, Louisiana’s Democrat governor who is currently running for reelection, may be vetting his donors with a bit more scrutiny this go-around as a 2015 donor who maxed out to Edwards has found himself at the center of a complicated bribery scheme involving the public school system in Dallas, Texas.

Robert Leonard, the man who donated the maximum-allowed $5,000 to Edwards, founded Force Multiplier Solutions, a company that puts stop-arm cameras in school buses. The company sold the cameras to Dallas County Schools (DCS), who then gave the cameras to districts for free. Under the agreement, DCS collected a percentage of the tickets issued to drivers who run past school bus stop signs.

However, the program didn’t collect enough in fines to pay for itself, and by 2017, DCS was $20 million behind in payments to Force Multiplier Solutions.

But while all of that was going on, federal investigators discovered that Leonard and former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells were involved in a bribery scheme.

It worked like this: Leonard paid $450,000 in a bribe and kickback scheme to a Dallas City Council member and an additional $3 million to Sorrells. In return, Force Multiplier Solutions was promoted for contracts with school systems in the Dallas area. The company reaped millions.

Leonard, Sorrells, and Dallas city councilmember Dwaine Caraway all pleaded guilty to various charges: conspiracy to commit honest services fraud (Leonard), federal wire fraud (Sorrells), and tax evasion and wire fraud (Caraway).

Fast forward to last month, a judge ruled that Leonard’s ex-wife, Margaret Leonard, would remain as a defendant in the case. Much of Leonard’s assets were transferred to his wife during their divorce, and lawyers argued that she was married to, lived with, and benefited from Leonard’s illegal dealings during the height of the conspiracy. Both Leonards were subpoenaed to appear in court just last week, and a judge issued a temporary injunction that prevented Margaret from transferring assets awarded to her in her divorce.

The case is ongoing, and the judge ordered the final trial in this case to begin on Feb. 25, 2020. That will be just a few months after Louisiana elects its next governor. Whether that remains Edwards, who accepted thousands from this bribery mastermind, or if voters choose to go in another direction, will be debated in the next few months. There are no reports to date that indicate Edwards has been asked about his connection to Leonard.

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