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Former top official with HISD accused of taking kickbacks from contractor, according to court records

HOUSTON – An FBI raid of the headquarters of Houston Independent School District and the home of then-Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby in February stemmed from allegations that Busby was taking kickbacks from a district contractor, according to a document filed in court.

Federal agents descended on the district’s administration building and Busby’s home on Feb. 27 to conduct a “court-authorized law enforcement activity at the Hattie Mae White, HISD Administration Building.”

In a civil forfeiture complaint filed by an assistant U.S. attorney, federal investigators accuse Busby of conspiring to pay an unnamed contractor for work performed by district employees in exchange for kickbacks. A total of $90,150 in cash was seized from Busby’s home in February, as well as $95,874 in cash from the home and vehicle of the contractor, court records reveal.

The contractor owns a lawn company that has done work for HISD since 2016. The filing claims the contractor would also “periodically submit proposals for other HISD projects, such as the renovation of athletic playing fields.”

According to the documents, the contractor would not do the work, but instead, district employees would do a portion of the project, frequently at overtime rates. The contractor would then be paid for the work and would pay a portion of the money to Busby, according to legal documents.

“The contractor would sometimes write checks from his business account to other people, like subcontractors, and have them cash the check and return most of the cash to the contractor,” legal documents read. “Shortly after (Busby) had met with the contractor or the contractor’s representative, (he) would sometimes structure multiple cash deposits into various bank accounts he controlled.”

According to the complaint, Busby and the contractor must forfeit “any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to any offense constituting ‘specified unlawful activity,’ or a conspiracy to commit such … theft of federal funds and wire fraud.”

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