A former director within the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) pleaded guilty to charges of theft, bribery and conspiracy to commit procurement fraud after he used his position for personal gain, according to a statement from the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.
James Schoo, 73, was director of general services for DJS and an employee of the state. From September 2013 to May 2016, a contractor named Andrew Seabolt provided Schoo with benefits — such as installing a concrete driveway and carpet at Schoo’s home — in exchange for being awarded maintenance work at DJS facilities, the state’s investigation found.
As director, Schoo’s duties included choosing vendors to submit bids for maintenance work valued less than $15,000, approving requisitions for such work on behalf of DJS and approving invoices submitted after vendors completed the work, Frosh’s office said.
From on or about July 31, 2013, through on or about Aug. 25, 2016, Seabolt & Sons, LLC was awarded approximately 128 contracts to perform maintenance work at DJS facilities, leading to approximately $1.2 million in payments from the state, the statement reads.
Through this arrangement with Seabolt, Schoo also had carpet installed at a rental property and at his daughter’s home, and got new wooden cabinets installed in his kitchen, according to Frosh’s office. Schoo did not pay for the materials or work.
Schoo also solicited fake proposals from an employee of a vendor who provided Schoo with a golf outing and trip to New York City, the statement reads. When the employee’s husband was unemployed, Schoo directed money to him, fraudulently presented him as a contractor and hired him to work at DJS, despite him lacking qualifications.
Schoo reportedly paid the husband with a state check that was made out to a company that does not exist.
“The nonexistent company later became a source for false proposals used as losing submissions in other procurements; ultimately, 23 requisitions were approved by Schoo in which Seabolt & Sons was awarded the work, and the fake company was inserted as the losing bidder,” the statement reads.
Investigators also found Schoo used a state purchasing card to buy nearly $7,000 worth of materials for his benefit.
“Pursuant to a plea agreement, Schoo pleaded guilty to one count of theft greater than $1,500 and less than $25,000, five counts of bribery, and one count of conspiracy to commit procurement fraud,” the statement reads. Sentencing is planned to be held Jan. 22.