To Lake Travis ISD Taxpayers: A Blast from the Past
By Donna Garner
Not only has the Lake Travis ISD school board been foolish enough to have paid Superintendent Rocky Kirk $351,222 (enrollment 6,974 students), but they have turned right around and chosen MikeMoses of School Executive Consulting, Inc. to find the next superintendent for the district:
Austin American-Statesman, 7.11.11: Lake Travis school board names interim superintendent
Why should the citizens and taxpayers of Lake Travis ISD have any confidence that Mike Moses could find them an ethical and fiscally responsible candidate to be superintendent when Moses himself has such a troubled past.
For people who are new to Texas or for people who have forgotten the details, let me recap the serious problems Moses had while he was the Dallas ISD supe (2000 – 2004).
All of the following were uncovered by The Dallas Morning News during Moses’ years as the leader of the district:
Allegations surfaced about out-of-control spending with school credit cards, lost dollars for health plans, abuse of federal e-rate funds, irregular technology vendor contracts, misspent federal bilingual education funds, costly deals with Kinko’s, apparent conflicts of interest involving Voyager Expanded Learning, contributions by computer vendors, questionable bond sales, multiple teacher grievances, eyebrow-raising private consultancies, lucrative Coca-Cola contracts, and special privileges for vendors participating in the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) conferences.
Meanwhile, Moses received the highest superintendent’s salary in the nation ($340,000 per year, excluding benefits) even though eleven school districts in the country were larger than Dallas ISD.
When the DISD problems began to surface in 2004, Moses resigned and walked away with an additional $480,850. Along with his ongoing and lucrative superintendent search business, he now receives a yearly TRS pension of $224,400 per year. Note that Moses’ wealth comes from taxpayers’ dollars.
During the years that Moses was the Dallas ISD superintendent (2000 – 2004), Ruben Bohuchot was the Chief Technology Officer at Dallas ISD (August 1999 through February 2006). William Frederick Coleman, III was Deputy Superintendent and Chief Operating Officer at DISD from August 30, 1999 through Sept. 15, 2000.
Bohuchot, Coleman, and Frankie Wong were all indicted for plotting and carrying out a multi-million-dollar scam to misuse federal dollars; Buhochut and Wong were sentenced to federal prison.
How could Bohuchot, Coleman, and Wong have carried out such an elaborate plan, including the many contract negotiations, without Moses either participating in the scam or having knowledge about it?
I personally believe that Moses was shielded from the federal investigation. Maybe he threatened to reveal something damaging about a high-profile politician who had the power to make sure Moses was kept out of the federal investigation. Who knows?
Below are excerpts from the 7.11.08 article in The Dallas Morning News written by reporter Richard Abshire that gives the details of the federal conviction of Ruben Buhochot and Frankie Wong:
Excerpts from Richard Abshire’s article:
The jury that took eight hours to reach guilty verdicts in the bribery case against a former Dallas ISD administrator and a computer vendor this week took all day Wednesday and Thursday to agree on how much money the men should forfeit as proceeds of their crimes.
The jury decided that Ruben Bohuchot, 59, and Frankie Wong, 47, should forfeit $1.2 million, about half of the $2.1 million the government had sought.
On Tuesday, the jury found Mr. Bohuchot, the Dallas school district’s former technology boss, and Mr. Wong, whose Micro System Enterprises was one of the district’s largest suppliers, guilty of multiple counts – 13 for Mr. Bohuchot and 10 for Mr. Wong – that included charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering.
After that verdict, U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay ordered the jury to make a decision on the asset forfeiture…
The government accused Mr. Bohuchot of steering two multimillion-dollar contracts to Mr. Wong and his associates in return for thousands of dollars in cash, trips, rounds of golf, blue-water fishing outings and unlimited use of sport-fishing boats, complete with a full-time captain.
After the jury’s decision Thursday, Judge Lindsay set a sentencing hearing for Oct. 20. Mr. Bohuchot and Mr. Wong face a range of penalties, including a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of eight bribery counts…
Mr. Bohuchot’s downfall began after a July 2005 interview with a Dallas Morning News reporter asking who had paid for his recent fishing trip to Key West, Fla.
When Mr. Bohuchot testified in his defense last week, he admitted that he told the reporter that he had paid his own way, but, in reality, Mr. Wong had paid for everything. Mr. Bohuchot testified that he was having health problems at the time and that the reporter’s line of questioning had caught him off-guard.
Mr. Bohuchot also admitted that he lied again about the matter days later to his superiors at the school district.
At trial, the former administrator acknowledged accepting Mr. Wong’s generosity on numerous occasions.
“In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a good thing to do,” he admitted in court, while denying any wrongdoing.
One prosecution witness, Dan Tingley, described his role as captain of both Sir Vezas, saying Mr. Bohuchot accounted for 80 to 90 percent of the boats’ use before allegations of improprieties came to light in 2005.
Mr. Tingley said he went to Mr. Wong at one point about banning Mr. Bohuchot from operating the boat when drinking. But Mr. Wong said that if Mr. Bohuchot didn’t enjoy using the Sir Vezas anymore, then he wouldn’t need them.
“Mr. Wong was nervous on the ocean,” Mr. Tingley testified.
Defense attorneys tried to discredit the accounts of prosecution witnesses, including William Coleman, another former DISD administrator.
Mr. Coleman, who in the original indictment faced charges of bribery, money laundering and obstruction, testified for the government as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor and the government agreed not to oppose probation.
A few weeks after newspaper stories about Mr. Bohuchot’s relationship with Mr. Wong appeared, federal investigators opened a public corruption investigation into the school district’s deals with Mr. Wong’s company, Micro System Enterprises.
The federal government froze funding on one of the district’s technology contracts with Micro System pending results of the investigation.
The Bohuchot affair rippled across the district for months. In December 2005, the district’s police chief abruptly resigned after The News reported he was in business with a former employee of Mr. Wong.
Mr. Bohuchot left the district in 2006, after spending almost eight months on leave while district officials also looked into questions raised by the newspaper’s findings. He agreed to resign after trustees offered him a $65,000 buyout deal to walk away.
In January 2007, Mr. Wong’s company liquidated after selling most of its assets.
The government filed the multicount indictment against the two men on May 22, 2007, almost exactly two years after Mr. Bohuchot’s ill-fated interview…
The defendants’ backgrounds
Ruben Bohuchot, 59, of Dallas was an assistant superintendent at DISD in charge of technology and its procurement. He resigned from the district in February 2006 and left with a $65,000 buyout. Mr. Bohuchot was convicted of eight counts of bribery and one count each of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to launder money. He was also convicted of obstructing justice, as well as two counts of making a false statement on an income tax return.
Frankie Wong, 47, of Houston was co-owner and president of Micro System Enterprises, a computer vendor that was, at one time, one of DISD’s largest suppliers. In January 2007, he sold Micro System. Mr. Wong was convicted of eight counts of bribery and one count each of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to launder money.
[To read the July 10, 2008 press release by the U. S. Department of Justice, please go to the following link: FORMER DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT (DISD) EXECUTIVE AND HOUSTON BUSINESSMAN CONVICTED
IN FEDERALCORRUPTION TRIAL