HISD Trustee Found Liable In RICO Bribery Scheme
HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT FORMER TRUSTEE LARRY MARSHALL AND CO-CONSPIRATORS FOUND LIABLE IN FEDERAL COURT FOR BRIBERY, MONEY LAUNDERING, AND RACKETEERING IN A PAY-TO-PLAY SCHEME
HOUSTON, Texas, November 22, 2016—Six years after Gil Ramirez Group filed suit in Federal Court, claiming they lost a contract with HISD because they refused to pay a bribe to HISD Trustee Larry Marshall, a jury found Marshall and his associates guilty. Ramirez claimed that his company had lost out on $2.3 million in work for HISD because of his refusal to participate in the pay-to-play scheme.
Also found liable for racketeering and civil unlawful conspiracy, among other charges, are Marshall’s long-time “special friend” and consultant Joyce Moss Clay and two HISD vendors David “Pete” Medford, and Eva Jackson.
Under that program, the Gil Ramirez Group had completed 42 school renovation and life safety projects for HISD when his contract was up for renewal. According to the owner, Gil Ramirez, Jr, that was when he was told that future business depended on submitting to the pay-for-play scheme involving Marshall and Clay. Ramirez alleges that because he refused to pay the bribe, work stopped and his contract was not renewed. The jury agreed, in a finding that the scheme was a conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO).
Juror Lesley Beyer said she was stunned by the behavior of both the school district and Marshall, who served from 1999 to 2013.
“HISD’s behavior was reprehensible and Larry Marshall’s behavior and choices were reprehensible,” Beyer told KTRK’s Ted Oberg Investigates after the trial.
“The evidence showed that there is a long-standing culture of cronyism and pay-to-play schemes at HISD,” she said.
Beyer was particularly outraged that top HISD brass would use outside law firms to investigate claims against Marshall — and then not disclose the findings by hiding behind attorney-client privilege.
The verdict reflects negatively on HISD and its alleged corrupt practices in the bidding and contracting process, allowing Marshall to implement a pay-to-play scheme, demanding bribes in exchange for opportunities to work or be shown the door. Because of its status as a governmental entity, the Houston Independent School District, Texas’ largest school district, was dismissed and held unaccountable due to governmental immunity.
Ramirez said, “Today the corruption at HISD took a blow. It’s so entrenched, it’s so deep. I think this case is just the tip of the iceberg.” He added, “I finally feel there’s been some justice and vindication.“
Contact for More Information or Interview With Mr. Ramirez:
Michael R. Martin
Justice for Education
Make Your Voice Heard:
Contact the Texas Education Agency and the Houston Independent School District and demand honesty and transparency in education.
Texas Education Agency
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas, 78701
Richard A. Carranza
Superintendent of Schools
4400 West 18th Street
Houston, Texas 77092-8501
Telephone: (713) 556-6300
Hattie Mae White ESC
HISD Board Services
4400 West 18th Street
Houston, TX 77092-8501
Telephone: (713) 556-6121