HCC board votes to censure board member after pleading guilty to bribery charges

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HCC board votes to censure trustee indicted for bribery.

Houston Community College's board of trustees voted Thursday to censure board member Chris Oliver after pleading guilty to federal bribery charges earlier in the year. The case was unsealed last week.
RELATED: HCC trustee pleads guilty to federal bribery charges

Oliver was first elected to the HCC board in 1995.

Trustees opened the meeting and went directly into an executive session to discuss legal options against Oliver. HCC representatives say their options are very limited. The board cannot remove him in a simple vote, they said.

"Trustee Oliver's actions are no surprise," said trustee Dave Wilson. "We on the board did nothing about it."

Federal prosecutors allege Oliver got tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments from Houston Public Works director Karun Sreerama.

Sreerama was listed as the victim in the court documents.

Chip Lewis, Sreerama's attorney, says his client was the victim of a shakedown by Oliver.

Sreerama is on paid leave from the city while the mayor reviews the case.

RELATED: Court records show top Houston official made payments to indicted HCC trustee

HCC board chair Eva Loredo issued the following statement:

To our HCC community,

We are proud to be part of this important institution in Houston, which plays a critical role in helping to educate and change the lives of more than 100,000 people each year. Yet, with all of our many successes, we are also impacted when our college is harmed by those entrusted to lead and protect it.

When one member of our Board of Trustees violates his or her ethical duty, much less the law, we are all impacted. Each of the Trustees has been sworn to uphold high ethical and moral standards.

Given recent events, the Board would like to take a moment to reassure our students, faculty and staff, as well as our partners, supporters, and the community that we remain committed to our primary focus of student success.

As the matter involving HCC Trustee Christopher Oliver, District IX is resolved in court, the Board will follow Texas law and Board policies to minimize the disruption to Board and college operations. While this situation will touch each of us in different ways, please know that we will never waver from the good for which this college is responsible.

The role of the Board of Trustees is to protect the institution and to support the work of the Chancellor, who with his team, are making student successes happen each and every day. It is up to each of us at HCC to demonstrate why we are Houston's Community College with our words, our good deeds and our committed actions.

Together, we have made and will continue to make a positive and profound mark on our students and their contributions to our community. We owe that to you. And, that is what we must and will do.

Thank you for your support of our college.

Sincerely,

Eva Loredo
Board Chair
Houston Community College


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