Post Number: 5960
|Posted on Friday, June 01, 2007 - 11:02 am: || |
Coleman's indictment a concern for Detroit
Former DPS leader charged in Dallas school contracts
May 30, 2007
BY SUZETTE HACKNEY and PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
Detroit school board members were divided Tuesday about whether a former superintendent's indictment in Dallas would lead to fallout here.
William F. Coleman III, 52, and two other men were indicted on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, bribery and obstruction of justice involving millions of dollars in technology contracts in the Dallas public school district.
While the indictment makes no suggestion of improprieties in Detroit, Coleman tried to help one of the men indicted with him -- Ruben B. Bohuchot -- get a job consulting with technology companies that were trying to win Detroit contracts. However, a Free Press investigation led to the Detroit district tossing out bids and re-awarding the contracts.
Bertram Marks, Coleman's attorney, called the indictment absurd and guaranteed a speedy dismissal of the charges.
"William Coleman has preserved trust everywhere he's been -- he's done nothing to destroy that public trust," Marks said Tuesday evening. "This was a fishing expedition that turned up nothing, and Mr. Coleman has been caught in this net. But he will be exonerated."
Marks said Coleman would appear in federal court, either in Dallas or Detroit, "very deliberately" to plead not guilty.
In a Free Press article last October exposing Coleman's connection to Bohuchot, Coleman said he knew Bohuchot was under investigation when he recommended him.
"This was a way to help an old friend, who's unemployed, to make a few dollars," Coleman told the Free Press last fall. "In hindsight, I guess that was a stupid decision."
Detroit board member Carla Scott said the district has moved on, and with a new superintendent arriving July 1, the Detroit technology contracts are not an issue.
"I think we were very clear we did not think he should be our superintendent," Scott said. "Other than that, it doesn't really mean anything for Detroit. ...
"We have a $200-million deficit; we question everything we can. We questioned him very thoroughly, and a lot of questions were asked."
Added board member Marvis Cofield: "What happened in Dallas happened in Dallas. ... We did our due diligence, and we gave the IT contracts to the person, the company, that we felt gave us the services we needed."
Not all satisfied
Yet board member Annie Carter said the district should reexamine some of the contracts approved under Coleman.
"I truly thought it was a joke," Carter said of hearing of the indictment.
"I feel we should look at some of the contracts we've done," she said. "We made the right choice to get rid of him."
Board member Marie Thornton said she plans to write each member of the board and ask that they investigate whether any money has been misappropriated. If she could, she said, she'd request a similar federal investigation in Detroit.
The federal indictments, which were unsealed Tuesday, stem from an 18-month investigation. The indictments say Coleman served as a facilitator between Texas businessman Frankie Logyang Wong and Bohuchot, who oversaw technology contracts for Dallas public schools.
The district eventually awarded two contracts worth $39 million to Wong's Houston-based company, Micro System Enterprises.
In May 2002, Wong's company paid for a trip to Key West, Fla., for the three men and their wives. While there, they discussed a contract to provide computers before the Dallas district had issued a public request for purchase -- inside information that helped Wong win a $4-million contract, the indictment says.
The indictment says Wong and Coleman created bogus shell companies to conceal payments from Micro Systems to Bohuchot. The company bought a $300,000 yacht that Bohuchot named the Sir Veza II, according to the indictment.
If convicted, Coleman faces up to 90 years in prison and nearly $2 million in fines.
In and out in Detroit
Last year, while he was Detroit Public Schools chief, Coleman recommended Bohuchot serve as a consultant for a DPS vendor even though he knew Bohuchot was under federal investigation in Dallas.
Coleman said he asked Julius Bender, owner of Information Solutions Group, if he planned to bid on soon-to-expire Detroit technology contracts. Bender said he didn't know how to write the proposal, and asked Coleman if there was anyone who could help. Coleman recommended Bohuchot.
Bender did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking comment.
Bohuchot had been under investigation by the FBI since summer 2005, after the Dallas Morning News reported that Bohuchot, then technology chief for Dallas schools, routinely accepted the free use of a luxury sports-fishing yacht.
Eventually, Information Solutions Group became a subcontractor in a bid put in by another IT company, GVC Networks, and it's unclear how much input, if any, Bohuchot had in that contract.
As the Free Press was about to print details of the Coleman-Bohuchot connection, Coleman issued a statement recommending the district rebid the Information Solutions contract, saying "unjustified suspicion" now clouded it, causing a "needless distraction."
Coleman and Bohuchot first met in San Francisco, where Coleman was school district finance chief and Bohuchot the technology chief. Coleman resigned a month after the state hired auditors to examine the district's books. While it never named Coleman directly, the audit eventually slammed the district's practices, calling the records inaccurate and chaotic.
Coleman's only connection to Bohuchot is that they worked together, Coleman's attorney Marks said Tuesday. "That does not translate to something being done improper," he said. "Mr. Bohuchot never had any dealings with anybody here in Detroit, nor did he have anything to do with any of the district's technology contracts."
Although ousted by the Detroit board, Coleman continues to receive his $225,000 annual salary until his contract runs out June 30.
YAY! I'm glad the DPS School Board FIRED Him
Post Number: 5964
|Posted on Friday, June 01, 2007 - 3:34 pm: || |
Post Number: 1065
|Posted on Friday, June 01, 2007 - 3:43 pm: || |
"Detroit school board members were divided Tuesday about whether a former superintendent's indictment in Dallas would lead to fallout here."
Guess it hasn't...