Bravery of Former Dallas County Schools Business Manager Leads to Exposure of Multimillion-Dollar Fraud

Kardell Law Group partner represents client whose testimony sparked a criminal investigation
By: Kardell Law Group
DALLAS - May 8, 2018 - PRLog -- The persistence of a wrongfully terminated employee, supported by a local attorney, has resulted in a guilty plea by her former boss at the Dallas County Schools — an agency voters found to be so corruptly run that they shut it down in November 2017. A year earlier, Denise Hickman, former business manager of the DCS, was accused by then DCS superintendent Rick Sorrells of mishandling taxpayer funds to pay for the district's school bus tickets and was subsequently fired. Ms. Hickman, represented by Dallas attorney Steve Kardell of Kardell Law Group, brought a wrongful termination suit against the DCS and prevailed, which resulted in her reinstatement and retirement. But two years after that suit was resolved, the actions of Ms. Hickman, who began questioning DCS expenditures in 2015, helped lead to a criminal investigation of her accuser. The former superintendent recently pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud for receiving more than $3 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding $70 million in bus camera contracts that nearly bankrupted the DCS.

The case could have ended in 2016 when Ms. Hickman was successfully reinstated with the help of Kardell, but Sorrells continued to suggest that Ms. Hickman was responsible for the agency's budget crisis by releasing her termination letter, which stated she "failed to perform her job duties," and continued to say that there were "significant issues with her management of personnel and operations." Unable to stand by as her reputation was being sullied, and suspicious of her former employer, Ms. Hickman and her attorney contacted NBC 5 Investigates in February 2017 to dispute the claims.

Ms. Hickman's interview with NBC 5 investigative reporters led them to expose a DCS warehouse "stacked to the ceiling with cameras," unused and thus unneeded by the agency. That reporting sparked a criminal investigation into Sorrells and ultimately led to his guilty plea, in which he agreed to spend up to ten years in prison. As Steve Kardell, Ms. Hickman's attorney, states, "This is why I do the work I do. I am proud to be able to support brave individuals like Denise Hickman and help them stand up to the people who would wrongly take advantage of others."

About the firm

For more than 35 years, Steve Kardell, a partner in Dallas-based Kardell Law Group, has protected corporate executives from misdirected internal investigations while also protecting clients against employer retaliation in whistleblower law cases, securing major settlements for those unnecessarily made the targets of difficult and draining internal investigations.

In addition to representing clients in his legal practice, Mr. Kardell, a recognized authority in his field and the author of Whistleblower and Bounty Law, has developed corporate ethics programs for major multinational corporations. He frequently lectures on whistleblower law and internal investigations at law schools and in continuing legal education courses.

For more information about Steve Kardell's practice, visit the firm's website.

Kardell Law Group

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