Questions loom about former HISD Trustee who went on vacation after entering guilty plea for conspiracy tied to bribes

Accountability questions surround conviction of HISD official

HOUSTON – Holding a public official accountable is a rare sight in Houston.

When law enforcement makes an arrest resulting in a conviction, headlines are made and there is a belief that someone is immediately paying a price for their criminal wrongdoing.

However, that is not always the case.

KPRC 2 has been tracking one example for months where the convicted official has continued to live life to the fullest, nearly two years after entering a guilty plea.

“It’s disappointing, it’s troubling,” said former federal prosecutor Michael Wynne.

The federal case involves former Houston Independent School District Board of Education president, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, who entered a guilty plea back in Oct. 2021 for conspiracy tied to bribes within the district.

So, what has Skillern-Jones been doing since her conviction?

Well, this year alone she has visited Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a birthday celebration, the West African nation of Ghana, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates - to celebrate one of her son’s graduation and another son’s birthday, according to court requests and images posted during her travels.

As to when Skillern-Jones is going to federal prison...

That was terminated in April of last year according to federal legal records.

“She must be doing a whole lot for the government in some other case,” said Wynne.

As for a new sentencing date...

That has yet to be determined according to court records. When KPRC 2 Investigates reached out to the case manager for U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen for some clarity on a new date, the case manager told KPRC 2 Investigates, “When the court resets any hearing in this case, it will be on the docket.”

We did leave messages for Skillern-Jones’ attorney but he did not return those calls.

U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani admitted he was “not familiar” with the case, but did have a message for Houstonians. ”The message to Houstonians is this, public corruption will not be tolerated in this city or anywhere in the Southern District of Texas,” said Hamdani.

We asked Wynne if Houstonians should be concerned that someone has pleaded guilty and is not being held accountable.

His response was simple. “This is the public servant who has admitted to doing something wrong, who now needs to be held accountable and not live life as if nothing happened.”

Skillern-Jones is facing up to five years in prison and a possible maximum fine of $250,000 according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice to announce her conviction.

About the Author:

Journalistic bulldog focused on accountability and how government is spending your dollars. Husband to Wonder Woman, father to a pitcher and two Cavapoos. Prefers queso over salsa.