HOUSTON (KTRK) --The company suing former HISD Trustee Larry Marshall for its losing a contract to HISD, alleging it was because they failed to pay a bribe to Marshall, had a track record of poor performance at the school district Marshall's attorney argued in Federal Court Monday, suggesting that was the real reason the company was cut loose.
Attorney Richard Morris also alleged that the company, the Gil Ramirez Group, continued to get Houston Independent School District work after the date Gil Ramirez Jr. claims that he refused the bribe.
"How can you testify that you got zero work awarded when the evidence shows you got all these projects," Morris asked.
The civil bribery trial against Marshall, once the longest-serving and most powerful HISD trustee, has been going on for more than a week. Most of the week has shown an ugly side of the district, with allegations of a 'pay to play' way of doing business and a culture of cronyism.
On Monday, though, problems HISD with the Gil Ramirez Group were apparently laid bare:
Morris alleged during court:
- HISD complaints with the company's bonding and insurance while doing work on district projects;
- That after initially hiring the firm HISD construction officials complained that the firm -- new to this particular, specific kind of construction work -- needed too much help from HISD staff;
- The Gil Ramirez Group broke ground on a school project without authorization; and
- When being rated against other companies for a new contract for this work in 2010, HISD staffers rated the Gil Ramirez Group ranked 10 out of 13 companies.
Ramirez, who was on the stand all day, in part blamed many of the complaints on a particular construction manager above him who reported directly to HISD.
At the end of the day, Ramirez outlined a very specific allegation on the method Marshall created to flow money his way to keep it out of the public eye -- and away from any law enforcement eyes, too. The money was provided to him through a "bag lady" and an "invoice system."