|Former HCC Trustee Sent to Prison for Bribery Conviction
HOUSTON, January 9, 2018 - A former trustee with Houston Community College (HCC) has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of bribery of a public official concerning programs receiving federal funds, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI. Chris Oliver, 53, of Houston, pleaded guilty May 15, 2017.
Today, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Oliver a 70-month sentence. At the hearing, additional testimony was presented including the fact that Oliver had maintained a position of trust as an elected official, but nonetheless, chose to engage in this criminal activity. It was also noted that the bribes took place over an extended period of time, beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2016. Oliver was further ordered to pay a $12,000 in forfeiture to the FBI and will be required to serve a one-year-term of supervised release following completion of the prison term. In handing down the sentence, Judge Gilmore noted that Oliver had been on the board of trustees for approximately 21 years and that the sentence was necessary to take into account the number and amount of bribes Oliver had received, to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law and provide adequate deterrence.
"Public officials who use their position for private gain undermine the integrity of government and erode the public's trust in the very framework of our democracy. Today's sentence sends a strong message of the consequences of such actions,” said Turner. “The FBI stands firm with local, state and federal partners in an unwavering commitment to combat public corruption and hold accountable those who choose to abuse the privilege of serving the American people. We rely heavily on the public's help in investigating these crimes and urge anyone with information related to public corruption to report it to the FBI.”
At the time of his guilty plea, Oliver admitted he accepted bribes in exchange for the promise of official actions related to his duties as a member of the HCC board of trustees. It was revealed in open court at the plea hearing that Oliver met with another individual on several occasions at various restaurants and coffee shops in Houston where he accepted cash payments in exchange for promising to use his position to help that person secure contracts with HCC.
Oliver later resigned from his position
Oliver was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance from the Department of Education - Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Leuchtmann and Julie Searle are prosecuting the case.
If you have information regarding public corruption in the Houston area, please contact the FBI helpline at 713-693-5000.