Former school board members face grand jury - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Syan Rhodes

Former school board members face grand jury

Sara Lewis, outside court Wednesday. Sara Lewis, outside court Wednesday.

A federal grand jury met for a second day Wednesday as it continued an investigation into business practices at Memphis City Schools.

Former Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners president Sara Lewis was first to face the grand jury.

"I remain unbought and unbossed," she said outside court.

Lewis said prosecutors wanted to know about "improprieties" in how the school district awarded construction contracts.  Lewis said she was also asked about former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson.

Sources close to the investigation say the grand jury's investigation includes a review of a $47 million school construction contract, brokered by Thompson, awarded to the H&M Company of Jackson, Tennessee. 

The FBI apparently began that investigation following reports by The Commercial Appeal newspaper that Thompson was paid $200,000 in consulting fees by the H&M Company.

Thompson has not returned Action News 5's requests for a comment.  The company and Thompson, now retired from the Shelby County Commission, have denied wrongdoing.

Also on the witness stand Wednesday was former school board member Willie Brooks.

"They just wanted to know how the process worked," Brooks said, referring to processes of the Board of Commissioners' Capitol Improvement Program committee.  The committee oversees school construction and makes recommendations on contract bids.

Wanda Halbert, who testified Tuesday, served on that committee.

Also subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury Wednesday were political consultant Ron Redwing, and Hubon Sandridge, who spent 17 years on the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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