City Official Gets Jail for Kickbacks

THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 2015


INDIANAPOLIS--A former Indiana city official will spend more than four years behind bars for siphoning off more than $400,000 in kickbacks from the operators of a concrete company on public-works projects in Bloomington.

Justin Wykoff, 44, of Bloomington, was sentenced Tuesday (June 9) to 55 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud, according to Josh J. Minkler, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Wykoff served as the Manager for Engineering Services for the City of Bloomington and was responsible for bidding and awarding contracts for public projects, including paving and sidewalk construction.

Parole and Restitution

In addition to his prison term, Wykoff must serve three years on parole.

He was also ordered to pay over $400,000 in restitution to the city.

The sentencing proceeding was held before U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.

“Public officials are trusted to serve the people, not to serve themselves,” said Minkler.

“Those who choose to line their pockets using money from the public payroll can expect the full force of the federal prosecution hammer.”

Official photo

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Josh J. Minkler said the sentence sends a strong message to public officials.

Minkler said the sentence sends a strong message: “If you choose to abuse the public’s trust as a public official, you will go to prison. There will be no probation, no half-way house, no suspended sentence, no parole. The sentence will be prison.”

Kickback Scheme

According to authorities, between April 2011 and February 2014, Wykoff solicited and received substantial cash bribes and kickbacks from Roger Hardin, 52, and his son, Zach Hardin, 26, who operated a company called Reliable Concrete and Construction.

City of Bloomington

Between April 2011 and February 2014, Wykoff solicited and received bribes and kickbacks from Roger Hardin, 52, and son Zach, 26, operators of Reliable Concrete and Construction, prosecutors said. A project page on Bloomington’s website shows Reliable Concrete bid to place concrete for curbing, sidewalk and driveways in 2012.

The three bilked the city coffers of $446,335.26, prosecutors said.

In exchange for the kickbacks, Wykoff assisted the Hardins in obtaining $807,000 in city construction contracts and payments. Prosecutors say $300,000 was for work that was never done, or was previously completed by a different company.

Wykoff estimated project costs and prepared bid proposals, using his inside information to ensure Reliable Concrete was the low bidder, the prosecutors said. In some cases, Wykoff awarded city contracts to Reliable Concrete outright without obtaining bids from other contractors.

The kickbacks were paid in cash to avoid a bank trail, according to authorities.

Covering Tracks

Authorities also said the three men tried to avoid detection by creating false concrete bid proposals after officials discovered money was missing.

In February 2014, a month before the men were formally charged, Wykoff created false documents and planted copies in his office in an attempt to further conceal the scheme.

For his role, Roger was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. Zachary was sentenced to 12 months.  

The men are equally responsible for the restitution, according to the prosecutors.

   

Tagged categories: Bidding; Concrete; Construction; Fraud; Good Technical Practice; Government; Government contracts; North America

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