A slew of criminal charges alleging widespread embezzlement of federal funds has shaken the Houston Independent School District to its core, and now Chief Operating Officer (COO) Brian Busby, a decades-long veteran of HISD who has been overseeing the nation's seventh largest school district since the end of 2016, faces additional charges related to his many-pronged bribery scheme.
Given the nature of the allegations against him, which include stealing federal funds meant for school kids in order to pay off gambling debts, the fact that he had been managing an annual budget of almost $300 million dollars and almost 10,000 employees, is pretty chilling. Also, somewhat ironically, Busby managed the HISD public school district police department, the only one of its kind that is actually accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
On the surface, Busy's rage-to-riches story seems compelling: He began his HISD career right after high-school graduation. advancing quickly from lowly custodian to managerial roles and then achieving a master's degree of his own. His seeming success story attracted much attention in the local business community, with the Houston Business Journal even naming him a "40 under 40" honoree in 2018.
To date, five other high-level HISD bosses have already pled guilty in relation to the scheme - Rhonda Skillern-Jones (former HISD Board of Education President); Derrick Sanders (Officer of Construction Services), Alfred Hoskins, (General Manager of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations) Gerron Hall (Area Manager for Maintenance - South; and Luis Tovar (area manager for maintenance - North).
As an Acting Special Agent for the FBI's Houston Office stated in a press release, ”Houston taxpayers and the thousands of HISD students, along with their teachers and staff, are the... victims of this...multimillion-dollar public corruption scheme. The FBI will continue to work to hold accountable public officials who fail the citizens of their community by accepting bribes, and those who pay bribes.”
The FBI requests any information the public may have about this scheme or other public corruption crimes affecting the greater Houston community and surrounding areas. Anyone with such information may report it at HoustonCorruption@FBI.gov or may submit the information anonymously by phone at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at Tips.FBI.gov.
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