Following a series of articles in The Examiner uncovering BISD assistant superintendent Patricia Collins Lambert’s diversion of funds meant for educating the city’s most underserved students into the bank account of her grown son, Beaumont Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois called for a little transparency in the public entity. Chargois asked that all district administrators fill out a disclosure form and detail all familial relationships held with anyone receiving district funds, either as an employee of the district or as a vendor.
But absolute transparency would not come on the first try from Lambert, who still failed to disclose the fact that her son collected roughly half a million dollars from not only one company – but at least two.
Once it was revealed that Lambert was omitting some facts, she went on the offensive, saying those who criticize her paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to two “printing” companies owned, operated and staffed solely by her son out of Houston are “on a mission and determined to destroy everything ‘Pat Lambert and Central H.S.’”
Lambert signed a disclosure form Sept. 25 stating that she only had two relatives working in the district – her sister, Christine Martin, and daughter, Janell Collins. She also disclosed that her son, Brian Collins, owned Designergy, a company doing business with the district. Lambert did not disclose the fact that she was the person responsible for approving payouts to Collins’ Designergy, however, instead writing that insofar as supervising any relatives, there were “None that I am aware of” under her authority.
Factually speaking, on the other hand, Lambert is the district contact on all of Designergy’s invoices and Lambert even penned a letter to then chief financial officer Jane Kingsley that she had talked to “the vendor” about when to expect payment for a $17,983.50 November 2009 invoice total. But that isn’t the only time Lambert went to the finance department in search of a quicker payday for her son. In a separate request for payment, Lambert wrote to the finance office to “urgent, please rush” payment of an additional $6,000 over an initial invoice request exceeding $10,000.
Lambert had been getting a check cut to Designergy on a regular basis since 2007, but in 2010, son Collins started billing from Printica, as well. But Lambert’s connection to Printica was never divulged on her disclosure form.
Lambert’s relationship to Printica was divulged in the pages of The Examiner, though. Two days after the story ran this Halloween, Lambert reached out to Superintendent Chargois and the BISD Board of Trustees to explain why they heard about the relationship between Lambert and yet another vendor from the pages of a newspaper instead of from the executive cabinet member herself.
According to Lambert’s defense manifesto, all the known facts written about her are false. She begins with denying ever being convicted of a crime — despite records held at the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office and New Orleans news outlets that prove the contrary. Also, she said regarding Collins’ companies, “I have no ownership in any of his companies, nor do I transact any of his business dealings,” but she was able to ask her son to quit doing business with BISD anyway “because of all the negativity surrounding the district.”
Lambert goes on to claim that her son’s business — “a legitimate open market vendor” to use her words — has only been doing business since 2008, although invoices date back at least a year prior to that.
As for why she didn’t cite Printica as affiliated with her son on the recently submitted disclosure form, Lambert said, “Printica is not an active vendor, and therefore was not listed.” Printica has invoices dated in consistent intervals, however, from October 2010 though June 10, 2013.
Furthermore, Lambert insists, she is not the one responsible for making sure that she doesn’t illegally funnel money to her son’s business. The excess expenditure of funds, she said, was the responsibility of finance and compliance personnel.
“Legal counsel has assured me I have fulfilled all of the legal requirements of local and state governing bodies regarding the matter,” she insists. “Please be aware that other employees who have business relationships with relatives are not being subjected to this type of scrutiny.”
After snitching on other employees who may also be diverting public funds into the private enterprises of their loved ones, Lambert then goes on to say other employees are responsible for the public scrutiny of her public deeds. In Lambert’s letter, she details “disgruntled employees … trying to discredit my leadership and sway you all to ‘get me out of my current position.’”
Disheartened, but still clinging on to hope that she will keep her job and avoid prosecution for misappropriation of public funds, Lambert continues to stick by the idea that her son’s two printing companies are legitimate businesses meeting a legitimate need in the district.
What is not legitimate about either Designergy or Printica is the the fact that neither company has been issued a 1099 Form, according to records kept at BISD. A 1099 Form, according to the IRS, must be issued to vendors who receive $600 a year or more so the vendor can report that income for taxing purposes. When preparing a tax return, the IRS requires individuals or companies to report all of this income and pay income tax on it. Pursuant to a Public Information Request, it was revealed that no such documents exist for Designergy or Printica.
On file for each company was one page each – for Designergy, a readout containing the amount of money received this year with varying identifiers; for Printica, a W-9 was found dated back to September 2011. A W-9, according to the IRS, is used to keep track of taxpayer identification numbers of U.S. persons attempting to work in the United States. Limited liability companies have to provide a W9 that the payer must keep on file for any payment, and both a 1099 and W-9 must be done each year. No W-9 was found for Designergy.
When posed with the question as to whether Lambert’s attempt to conceal the true extent of her relationship to companies she is writing out checks to with public funds, BISD Board of Trustees President Gwen Ambres refused to respond.
“I only talk with the mainstream media,” she said “I’m not going to talk to The Examiner.”
Pressed further as to why her perception of the newspaper’s “stream” made the question any less valid, Ambres stuck to her vow of silence.
“It’s nothing personal,” she said. “I’m just not going to be talking to The Examiner.”
According to BISD spokesperson Ron Reynolds, Superintendent Chargois was in meetings and unable to provide a comment for this article.