Dwaine Caraway Resigns, Pleads Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges

Update 3:15 p.m. — Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued the following statement regarding Caraway's plea and departure from the City Council Thursday afternoon:

I learned this morning of Dwaine Caraway’s guilty plea and resignation, and I have not yet reviewed the public details of the case. Therefore, I will not be making any public comments today beyond this statement.

As we all now know, the corruption at Dallas County Schools extended beyond the confines of that now-shuttered organization. As your mayor, I am saddened by what we learned today about the actions of one of my former colleagues. I am sad for the city, especially the citizens of District 4, and for Mr. Caraway’s friends, family and supporters.

Mr. Caraway championed much good in his time in public service, particularly for the youth of our city. I appreciate that he is admitting his crimes and sparing the city what could have been a drawn-out legal battle.

More than 12,000 people work for the City of Dallas. Almost every one of them serves honorably and ethically — and never make the news. This city is so much bigger than any one politician who lost his way.

Update 10:45 a.m. — Dwaine Caraway pleaded guilty to two federal charges in U.S. District Court in Dallas this morning. He has also resigned from the Dallas City Council. Details on the charges as well as reaction from Caraway's Council colleagues are below.

Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway has agreed to plead guilty to two federal corruption charges, according to documents filed Thursday morning.

Caraway, now serving his fifth non-consecutive term on the Council, accepted $450,000 from Robert Leonard and Slater Swartwood Sr., both former executives with Force Multiplier Solutions, the Louisiana-based technology company at the center of Dallas County Schools stop arm-camera scandal. In exchange for the cash, the feds say, Caraway influenced the City Council's vote on the stop arm-camera program, which allowed DCS to collect civil fines from those who drove past the signs without stopping.

The program, which DCS officials said would generate millions in revenue for the agency, flopped, contributing to the agency's eventual demise in 2017.

According to federal court documents, Leonard paid Caraway $390,000 in bogus real estate consulting fees in order to secure his vote and influence on the camera program. Leonard and Swartwood also drafted a false loan promissory note for Caraway in order to hide some of the cash they paid him, according to the factual resume filed Thursday.

"Early on, Caraway told Leonard that he supported the stop-arm program and asked Leonard to make political contributions," the factual resume says. "Leonard made these contributions because Caraway asked and knew that Caraway supported the stop-arm program."

In addition to the corruption charge — a federal crime known as conspiracy to commit honest wire services fraud — Caraway is also pleading guilty to tax evasion. According to his plea agreement, he faces up to five years in federal prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution payments for both counts.

Caraway did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday morning, but his council colleagues told the Observer they were dismayed and surprised by the news.

"As a friend of mine, I'm upset that Dwaine and others availed themselves to corruption at DCS," Lee Kleinman said. "Nevertheless, governance holds the responsibility of public trust. When that trust is broken, people must be held accountable."

Council member Philip Kingston said Thursday was a dark day for Dallas.

"I am shocked," Kingston said. "I am personally fond of Dwaine so this is a sad day. His conviction is a tragedy for Dallas."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said through his office that he would likely issue a statement later Thursday.

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