Orange County man pleads guilty to more than $300K in thefts from Texas school district

Published 9:57 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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TYLER — An Orange man pleaded guilty to theft from the Trinidad Independent School District.

U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs said Brandon Delane Looney, 38, pleaded guilty Wednesday to theft from a program receiving federal funds while serving as business manager for Trinidad ISD.

According to Diggs, federal law makes it a crime for someone to steal from an organization receiving more than $10,000 in federal funds annually.

According to court documents, Looney embezzled more than $300,000 between 2017 and 2023 while working for Trinidad ISD in Henderson County.

Prosecutors said Looney used the funds for lavish trips to Walt Disney World and spending sprees at the Disney Store.

Looney faces up to ten years in federal prison, a potential fine and mandatory restitution to Trinidad ISD for the funds he stole.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
Before pleading guilty, Looney worked with the financial litigation unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to liquidate his assets and preserve them for the restitution he will be ordered to pay Trinidad ISD upon sentencing.

With the government’s oversight and approval, Looney sold his house in Vidor and other assets to preserve more than $200,000 for Trinidad ISD.

The full restitution judgment will be collectible for 20 years after the termination of Looney’s incarceration.
FBI’s Tyler Field Office, with assistance from the Tyler Police Department and the Trinidad ISD, investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Austin Wells is prosecuting.