TN contractor sentenced to 3 years in prison for kickback scheme
- A judge has sentenced a Tennessee contractor to nearly three years in prison and ordered him to pay $100,000 in restitution for paying kickbacks to a Kentucky project official in exchange for a $210,000 jail expansion contract, according to the Associated Press.
- Contractor Ronald Armstrong, owner of Armstrong Construction, pleaded guilty to four charges, including wire fraud, and admitted to paying Fulton County (KY) Detention Center official Ricky Parnell $80,000 — with a promise to pay $100,000 in total — for his recommendation that Armstrong be awarded the project, according to SurfKY News. Armstrong had reportedly been doing work for Parnell and Fulton County for 20 years.
- Parnell and another defendant also pleaded guilty to their parts in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.
Despite high-profile cases like this hitting the news, the prospect of jail, hefty fines and the potential for public humiliation don't seem to deter some contractors and pubic officials from breaking the law in trying to game the procurement process.
In April, a Georgia grand jury indicted a Chatham Area Transit Authority (CAT) contractor based in Savannah, GA, for submitting $200,000 in fake invoices, which were approved by two former CAT officials who were in on the scheme. The officials reportedly received cash kickbacks — and free construction work on their homes — from Anthony Florence, owner of SR Contracting, for verifying the work represented on his bills. The CAT officials have already been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution. Florence faces 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
In another high-profile case, federal prosecutors charged two Atlanta contractors in February with bribery and fraud for allegedly paying city officials more than $1 million so that they could win profitable city construction contracts. Charles P. Richards Jr. and Elvin "E.R." Mitchell Jr. allegedly paid the money to an official in the city's contracting office. That individual then reportedly paid other officials who had influence over who would be awarded the contracts.
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