More than a year after the Tarrant County district attorney's office began investigating former facilities department employees in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district and a former job-order contractor, the case is apparently no closer to a resolution.
Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney David Lobingier said the case is still under investigation, but the office is "trying to wrap it up as quickly as we can because we know it's an important case to a lot of people."
"It usually takes this long because of the nature of the case," said Lobingier, a prosecutor with the economic crimes unit who is involved in up to 140 active investigations. "We want to do it well, where there's nothing left undone. ... After they are investigated and indicted, then I handle them in court," he said.
Legal experts close to the case said it's not unusual for a year or even two to pass before a decision is made about criminal charges.
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The situation came to light in the spring of 2010, when the three facilities department employees resigned, including director Scott Monaghan, and the district severed ties with its primary job-order contractor. District administrators hired outside counsel to investigate allegations of theft of building materials and equipment involving the employees, and mismanagement by the job-order contractor.
All documents were turned over to the district attorney when the district's investigation ended. Lobingier said such investigations have to be thorough, even at the expense of speed.
The district attorney's office issues grand jury subpoenas, looks at bank and credit card records, titles and state documents during an investigation. "These things have a lot of different trails to them, and you've got to walk down every trail," Lobingier said.
New bond program
Meanwhile, the school district has moved on and is busy launching a $124.5 million bond program that voters approved in May for school improvements and technology upgrades.
Though the district's official involvement in the case ended when county prosecutors took over the case, the experience has clearly influenced school administrators to branch out and explore new business processes, particularly those that save money.
On Monday, school trustees approved hiring three employees dedicated exclusively to supervising bond construction, instead of contracting with an outside management company.
Thirteen commercial bids were rejected in favor of the three new district jobs, whichwill last for the duration of the four-year bond program. The positions will be paid for with bond funds, not the district's operating fund, which pays teachers, administrators and other employees.
The average bid submitted by the program management companies would have cost the district an estimated $2.15 million. The three temporary staff positions over four years will total about $1.1 million, or about $257,000 a year, officials said.
A full-time construction program manager will coordinate and oversee the bond projects and earn up to $167,000 per year on contract. The manager will also have a role as a committee member in selecting general contractors for various bid packages and may also coordinate with the purchasing department on buying furniture and equipment for the campus additions.
A full-time administrative assistant will provide extensive record-keeping and will be paid about $40,000 annually. An on-call construction overseer will make about $50,000 annually and work at a daily rate as needed, such as conducting punch lists of projects.Life also moves on for those who may be targeted in the district attorney's investigation.
Today, Monaghan is a manager in the energy and transportation management department at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, according to airport officials. Hamilton, the job-order contractor, is still in business as GCI Construction. Neither Monaghan nor Hamilton has a criminal record.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657