Next phase de­layed

Sen­tenc­ing pushed back for those guilty in cor­rup­tion case

The Dallas Morning News - - Metro & State - By ROBERT WILONSKY Staff Writer rwilon­[email protected]­las­

Five men in the past year have pleaded guilty to fed­eral cor­rup­tion lead­ing to the down­fall of Dal­las County Schools — and all five will spend an­other Christ­mas at home.

For­mer Dal­las Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Car­away, for in­stance, faces up to seven years be­hind bars for ac­cept­ing $450,000 in bribes and kick­backs from two fig­ures in the scan­dal that brought down the agency once tasked with bus­ing kids to school and help­ing them cross streets. Car­away pleaded guilty in Au­gust to two counts of fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges — tax eva­sion and wire fraud — and was orig­i­nally sched­uled to be sen­tenced next week.

His new date is now four months away.

In fact, all five of the men who have pleaded guilty have had their sen­tenc­ing dates pushed into 2019 — even Slater Swart­wood Sr., who copped to a sin­gle count of con­spir­acy to com­mit money laun­der­ing one year ago.

Car­away’s sen­tenc­ing date has been moved re­peat­edly since Oc­to­ber alone — from Dec. 14 to Dec. 20 to Feb. 9. Just last week, Car­away’s de­fense at­tor­ney Michael Payma

filed a mo­tion to push it back even fur­ther — into April or May, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. Dis­trict Judge Bar­bara Lynn de­cided on April 5.

Car­away’s lawyer of­fered two rea­sons for the de­lay: The prose­cu­tor in charge has a trial set to start in Jan­uary “that in all like­li­hood will cre­ate a con­flict with the cur­rent sen­tenc­ing date and other re­lated dead­lines.”

Payma then re­ferred to the pre-sen­tence in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port, which will essen­tially tell Car­away’s life story — ev­ery­thing from his fam­ily and work his­tory to his phys­i­cal and men­tal health — and help the judge set the sen­tence. Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Dis­trict Court, the re­port also deals with the de­fen­dant’s “will­ing­ness to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for his or her of­fense(s).”

Those re­ports are kept con­fi­den­tial.

Ac­cord­ing to Payma’s fil­ing, the “pre-sen­tence in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port in this mat­ter is rather com­plex,” and Car­away will need “ad­di­tional time to prop­erly eval­u­ate the re­port and file his ob­jec­tions, if any.”

Payma wouldn’t com­ment on the de­lay, other than to say, “I as­sure you that there were valid rea­sons for the re­quest.”

Locke Lord at­tor­ney Paul Cog­gins, who for eight years served as the U.S. at­tor­ney for the North­ern Dis­trict of Texas, said sen­tenc­ing de­lays over in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports aren’t un­com­mon. If noth­ing else, he said, they “give the govern­ment and de­fense more time to agree on things rather than fight over ma­te­rial that goes into the pre­sen­tenc­ing in­ves­tiga­tive re­port.”

But, he said de­lays could be for an­other rea­son: The de­fen­dants could be of­fer­ing pros­e­cu­tors in­for­ma­tion about a com­plex, wide­spread case that has so far net­ted guilty pleas from five peo­ple. The oth­ers are for­mer Dal­las City Coun­cil mem­ber Larry Dun­can, who served as board pres­i­dent of Dal­las County Schools; Rick Sor­rells, the agency’s for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent; Robert Leonard, the CEO of the stop-arm cam­era com­pany that took mil­lions from DCS; and Swart­wood, who was an as­so­ciate of Leonard’s.

“The govern­ment may want more time to ac­cess Mr. Car­away’s agree­ment of co­op­er­a­tion and run down leads,” Cog­gins said. “Or they may want time to com­plete the re­port. Or it could be a lit­tle bit of both.”

Car­away cer­tainly hasn’t locked him­self in the house since his guilty plea this sum­mer. He has been spot­ted at Dis­trict 4 can­di­date fo­rums, gar­ner­ing more ap­plause than the men and woman run­ning to fill his seat. And de­spite the pend­ing prison sen­tence, last month he con­tin­ued his tra­di­tion of hand­ing out Thanks­giv­ing turkeys — only this time, in Lan­caster.

“I did have to buy these turkeys this time, not that I could af­ford it,” he told KDFW-TV (Chan­nel 4). “At the end of the day, it’s for a beau­ti­ful cause ... The Lord has blessed me.”

Right now, Car­away and Sor­rells are sched­uled to find out their fates on April 5. Two weeks later, it will be Larry Dun­can’s turn — if the sched­ules hold.

Leonard, the CEO and chair­man of Force Mul­ti­plier So­lu­tions who pleaded guilty to fed­eral con­spir­acy charges shortly be­fore Car­away cut his deal with the feds, also had a Dec. 14 date. But for now, at least, the bene­fac­tor to many Dal­las po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates will be last to find out his time be­hind bars: His sen­tenc­ing has been pushed back all the way to May of next year.

Swart­wood was sup­posed to have been sen­tenced in Au­gust. But that did not hap­pen.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice said Fri­day only that his sen­tenc­ing is set for early 2019. There is no ex­act date, said Erin Doo­ley, be­cause “the ex­act date is still un­der seal.”


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