Extortion And Bribery In School Transportation

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

www.robinlyons.comOn the heels of Black Friday—the biggest shopping/spending day of the year—I thought school employee extortion, and bribery might be fitting.

BLOG POST #168: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving a ring of seven transportation employees.

Who’s Minding The Shop?

The employees worked for the city’s department of education (DOE), special education transportation division. Their jobs included setting the specifications for bus routes, overseeing bus routing bids from bus companies, securing transportation for field trips, and addressing vehicle safety issues found through random safety inspections.

Shameful Greed

For more than fifteen years, the seven employees established special education bus routes (on paper) that began earlier than necessary and ran long, the private bus companies were then able to charge more for their service and provided a kick-back to the employees.

During the same time-span, they funneled field trip transportation—worth hundreds of thousands of dollars—to certain bus companies in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in cash payments.

The employees also collected payments in exchange for favorable treatment relating to school bus safety violations uncovered during inspections, and providing advance notice of safety inspections that were supposed to be unannounced.

Hard Time

Because the DOE received federal program funding, any time spent for their crimes would land them in federal prison.

All but one pleaded guilty to extortion and bribery charges and were sentenced to a range of four-to-thirty months in prison with probation after released.

The solo-employee who held out for a trial was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy; one count of extortion; and one count of receiving bribes. The judge sentenced him to fifteen months in prison in addition to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of more than $20,000.

At the time of their sentencing, the employees’ ages ranged between 53-70.

Commentary

After working in school transportation for 18-years, I’m passionate about school transportation and have strong opinions on the subject. School districts are mandated to have regular audits performed by outside agencies and all school districts I worked for did. However, I personally pointed out to an auditor—which fell on deaf ears—an area of vulnerability for fraud in the transportation department. They didn’t seem interested in tightening the procedures.

What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

All School Marshal Novels are available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.  Have you joined the club?  Find out more here:  Robin’s Reader Club

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