HCC trustee convicted of bribery censured, removed from all committees

HOUSTON – The Houston Community College Board of Trustees voted to censure the now former Vice Chair of the board after he was convicted on bribery charges, according to a release from the school.

Chris Oliver, 53, was originally charged March 9 and pleaded guilty May 15.

Oliver admitted he accepted bribes in exchange for the promise of official actions related to his duties as a member of the Houston Community College Board of Trustees, according to authorities.

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 the college, authorities said.

Board Chair Eva L. Loredo opened Thursday's special meeting announcing that she had removed Oliver from his committee and went directly into executive session to discuss options for legal action against Oliver.

Board members could not lawfully removed Chris Oliver from the board because he is an elected official.

The board came into open session saying they would remove Oliver as Vice Chair, remove him from all committees and made him ineligible for election to board officer position for college fiscal year '17-'18.

Oliver is also ineligible for any reimbursements for any college related travel for the remainder of '16-'17 and '17-'18 school year. He will also not have access to his remaining funds in his board account for community affairs.

Board Chair Eva L. Loredo issued this statement:

We are proud to be part of this important institution in Houston, which plays a critical role in helping to educate and change the lives of more than 100,000 people each year. Yet, with all of our many successes, we are also impacted when our college is harmed by those entrusted to lead and protect it.

When one member of our Board of Trustees violates his or her ethical duty, much less the law, we are all impacted. Each of the Trustees has been sworn to uphold high ethical and moral standards.
Given recent events, the Board would like to take a moment to reassure our students, faculty and staff, as well as our partners, supporters, and the community that we remain committed to our primary focus of student success.

As the matter involving HCC Trustee Christopher Oliver, District IX is resolved in court, the Board will follow Texas law and Board policies to minimize the disruption to Board and college operations. While this situation will touch each of us in different ways, please know that we will never waver from the good for which this college is responsible.

The role of the Board of Trustees is to protect the institution and to support the work of the Chancellor, who with his team, are making student successes happen each and every day.  It is up to each of us at HCC to demonstrate why we are Houston’s Community College with our words, our good deeds and our committed actions.

Together, we have made and will continue to make a positive and profound mark on our students and their contributions to our community. We owe that to you.  And, that is what we must and will do

Oliver was permitted to remain on bond until sentencing, which is set for Aug. 28.

Oliver faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine for his actions.

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