(The Center Square) – A former contractor with a metro Detroit school district was sentenced to two years in federal prison for bribing a former school board president to secure bids for construction projects between 2014 and 2018.
John David, 65, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and to bribery of Madison District Public Schools with his reconstruction company, Emergency Restoration. The company was awarded over $3.1 million in projects by the school district.
According to court documents, David’s company paid school board president Albert Morrison $561,667 in order to receive contracts from the school district. Morrison was described as a longtime acquaintance and friend of David.
“Our community deserves school systems free of corruption,” U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison said in a statement Monday. “This prosecution and today’s sentence will help ensure that public school officials conduct themselves with the highest level of honesty, integrity and transparency and put the interests of our children first.”
The federal investigation was conducted by the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the Department of Education Office of Inspector General.
Federal agents said the scandal undermined integrity in the public’s trust and indicated that those who violate the law will receive the maximum penalty.
“Individuals who commit financial fraud of this magnitude and with this degree of dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Charles Miller, special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation division’s Detroit Field Office.
Morrison, Madison’s school board president, received funds from David in the “play-to-play” scheme via a company he created called Comfort Consulting. David paid Comfort Consulting 67 times over four years while Emergency Restoration received projects from the district which were labeled as emergencies to flout the normal competitive bidding process.
Morrison pleaded guilty in April and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 28. According to court documents, Morrison used the money to “take vacations, pay his living expenses, including credit card and phone bills, and to maintain a marina boat slip.”
“David’s offenses were repeated at least 67 times over more than four years,” David’s sentencing memo read. “They compromised the integrity of a school district that benefited from government-funded programs intended to support and promote educational opportunities for children.
“David placed his personal enrichment above the interests of those children, their families, and the community,” the government argued in its memo.
Government attorneys argued that it’s hard to calculate how much the scheme cost taxpayers.
“David and Morrison perpetrated their corruption in a manner that makes the financial loss to the district unquantifiable,” read the sentencing memo filed last week. “Due to the nature of their scheme, which obliterated the competitive bidding process, it is impossible to determine the additional amount of taxpayer money the district spent on David’s contracts instead of on contracts awarded through a competitive bidding process.”