A former Houston Community College trustee was sentenced to 70 months in prison for his part in a bribery scandal that forced a Houston city official to resign.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore sentenced former HCC official Chris Oliver after Oliver pleaded guilty to one of the two bribery charges federal prosecutors filed against him.
Oliver pleaded guilty to receiving $12,000 from Karun Sreerama, the owner of a contracting firm who later became the director of Houston’s Public Works Department. Sreerama claimed he was working with the FBI to catch Oliver in the act of soliciting bribes in exchange for favorable terms on contracts between private firms and HCC.
Prior to his guilty plea, Oliver was accused of accepting over $225,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2016. The bribes reportedly came from 69 other firms seeking contracts with HCC. Federal prosecutors agreed to drop the extortion and bribery charges against Oliver in May in exchange for his guilty plea in the Sreerama case.
When the charges against Oliver were unsealed last summer, Sreerama agreed to take paid leave as the investigation continued. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner later dismissed Sreerama from his post and appointed his deputy, Carol Haddock, to take over the department.
Although the FBI labeled Sreerama as a “victim” in the case, Turner and Sreerama reportedly mutually agreed to have him leave the post.
HCC Board Chairperson Eva Loredo released a press statement regarding Oliver’s actions.
“Our goal is to put in place the strongest anti-corruption measures possible. We are committed to ensuring that the future is one that is worthy of our students and the community we serve.”