Longtime HISD board member under criminal investigation by FBI

June 6, 2013 4:47:33 PM PDT
A Houston Independent School Board member -- no stranger to tough questions-- will now have to face some from federal investigators. This is on top of the lawsuit he's also dealing with connected to the same issue.

In court documents filed Thursday, longtime HISD board member Larry Marshall admits he is under federal criminal investigation. Marshall's been fighting bribery allegations for more than two years in a civil suit. He wants that suit stalled until the criminal investigation is over, but he's not stepping down from the board that oversees Houston schools.

Larry Marshall's been a Houston school board member since 1997. He was president of the board a few years ago. Last year the district even called him a living legend.

But at the same time he was getting that award, he was being sued in federal court, accused by a potential HISD vendor of taking money. And now Larry Marshall admitted in court documents, he's being investigated by the FBI.

"I have not heard that from any source," Marshall said, "that I am the target of a federal probe."

That's odd, since at the very same time his lawyer was asking a judge to postpone the civil case against him because he's "under criminal investigation."

"I have no problem giving that to him," said Joyce Moss Clay during a civil case deposition given in September 2012.

Moss Clay is a longtime friend of Marshall's and a consultant who had contracts numerous companies doing business with HISD.

HISD rules prevented Marshall from working directly with people who wanted school contracts. But depositions in that civil case show Moss Clay would get a consulting contract with them and give the bulk of that money right to Marshall. Over several years it was tens of thousands of dollars.

In that deposition an attorney asked, "You provided 65 percent of your Fort Bend Mechanical compensation to Mr. Marshall?"

"Yes," said Moss Clay.

The attorney asked, "Tell me exactly what he did to earn that that 65 percent."

Moss Clay responded, "To be my mentor, to be my friend, to be my familial brother."

Marshall says it's wasn't improper. Joyce Moss Clay was just generous.

Attorney Chad Dunn asked during a deposition in October 2012, "If the records reflect that you took 75 percent and she kept 25 percent, was that a mistake or was that benevolence on her part?"

Marshall responded, "That was benevolence and her choice. She's a remarkable woman."

Marshall is still a school board member, and even though the FBI is investigating, he's staying put.

I asked, "If you are the target of a federal probe will you step aside?"

Marshall said, "I would cooperate fully."

"No, that's a different question -- cooperating and then continuing to sit in your chair."

"No," he said.

HISD and Marshall deny the charges in the civil suit and are defending the civil case vigorously with your money. The school board has paid close to a million of your tax money for that defense, and the meter is still running.

Public money can't pay for Marshall's criminal defense.

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