in Houston, Texas
Plaintiff in Houston ISD kickback lawsuit wants HISD contractor Fort Bend Mechanical held in contempt of court
Monday, Oct 17, 2011, 04:58PM CST
By Mike Cronin
Bribe photo

Officials from the company accused of bribing Houston school board member Larry Marshall with a $25,000 check have refused to provide copies of that check and other potentially incriminating documents, attorneys for a rival firm alleged in court documents.

The Gil Ramirez Group and Gil Ramirez Jr. have asked U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt to hold Fort Bend Mechanical, a Stafford-based contractor, in contempt of court for withholding those documents, according to Friday’s filings.

Fort Bend Mechanical “wasn’t a party at the time the lawsuit was filed and because of additional information, now they are a party, so we’re asking the judge to hold them in contempt,” Ramirez’s lawyer Chad Dunn said in a Monday phone interview.

Hoyt may take as long as he’d like to issue a ruling, Dunn said, but he believes a decision could come within 10 to 20 days.

“Fort Bend Mechanical, through its attorney, informed the plaintiff that it was not releasing certain documents,” reads a section of the Friday filing, “...because they were allegedly outside the scope of the subpoena -- more likely they were withheld due to the behavior they uncovered.”

The court documents also note that Fort Bend Mechanical, after initially agreeing to allow Dunn’s law firm to copy relevant evidence, refused to allow Dunn and his colleagues to obtain “a copy of a check for $25,000 from David Medford to Lawrence Marshall noted as a campaign contribution.”

Despite that, images of the check are now part of the court file and have been published by Texas Watchdog and other media outlets. Dunn and his associates took photographs of the check and some other important documents while perusing dozens of boxes of documents at a Fort Bend Mechanical warehouse “in the event those documents went missing before they could be copied,” the court filing says.

Medford, who owns Fort Bend Mechanical, a major HISD contractor, is out of town and could not be reached for comment, a company official said. Medford did not return a message left on his voicemail.

Michael McGann, a Houston lawyer who is representing Fort Bend Mechanical, did not return a call for comment.

“It is clear that Fort Bend Mechanical is intentionally withholding responsive documents,” reads a section of the court filings, referring to evidence that The Ramirez Group says is a bribe that Marshall accepted from Fort Bend Mechanical.

Not only did Fort Bend Mechanical officials remove documents relevant to the bribery evidence, they also provided Dunn and his colleagues 668 pages they did not request to copy, which cost Dunn $133.60.

In court documents filed last week, they alleged Marshall received the $25,000 campaign donation in 2009 and did not report the contribution in his campaign financial-disclosure forms, which is illegal.

Arturo Michel, Marshall’s lawyer and a former Houston city attorney, did not return a call for comment.

The Ramirez Group, a Houston construction company, said in the court documents filed on Tuesday that the $25,000 from Fort Bend Mechanical was a bribe.

Questions about Marshall’s actions as a board member have circulated for months.

He twice accepted offers from state Rep. Borris Miles to travel for free Costa Rica. He held a fundraiser in Costa Rica on one of those trips. And he introduced district officials to a Houston doctor who almost received a  $640,000 no-bid contract – despite the absence of a job description for Wells’ proposed district work.

District officials halted negotiations on that contract due to questions from Texas Watchdog and the Houston Chronicle.

***
Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at@michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Photo of bribe from the Kiev Ukraine News Blog; hat tip to the Watertown (Mass.) Blog.

Comments
Can't Say
Tuesday, 12/27/2011 - 04:09PM

Fort Bend Mechanical is back at it, several temp employment agencies that are not being paid for work prefomred at HISD Schools this summer. Leans have been put on his bonds.

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