DALLAS — The former superintendent of a school bus agency mired in controversy pleaded guilty on Monday to taking more than $3 million in bribes and kickbacks from a camera supplier.
In court documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Rick Sorrells, who led Dallas County Schools before retiring in March 2017, admitted to receiving payments in return for approving $70 million in contracts with a company that provided stop-arm cameras for the agency’s school buses. Court documents also stated that Sorrells agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud. He waived his right to a federal grand jury indictment and agreed to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Although the indictment did not name the company, both the newspaper and NBC 5 identified it as Force Multiplier Solutions.
Prosecutors allege that Sorrells took payments through fake companies that he and an associate of the camera company created, according to The Dallas Morning News. Prosecutors also said that the money was used to pay off Sorrells' credit card and student loan debts, among other personal expenses, according to The Dallas Morning News. The scheme took place over about seven years.
Dallas County Schools was struggling with significant debt and was close to bankruptcy as a result of deals to buy the cameras, court documents stated. The stop-arm cameras were expected to bring in revenue by collecting fees from motorists who drove past stopped school buses.
As previously reported, the process of dismantling Dallas County Schools began in November when Dallas County voters chose to shut down the struggling agency. A dissolution committee replaced the agency’s board of directors. One of the committee’s tasks has been to decide how to distribute the 1,000 buses that served area school districts.