CORRUPTION EVERYWHERE … JUSTICE ELUSIVE
Reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper has a story up this week detailing federal fraud allegations against a group of contractors who “won government contracts worth some $350 million by misrepresenting themselves as straw companies controlled by either low-income men and women or disabled veterans.”
According to Monk’s report, the defendants “secretly set up an interlocking set of businesses and conspired to defraud the federal government by falsifying their eligibility to get government contracts.”
“The defendants hid the fact that construction companies were not controlled by minorities, veterans, women or the disabled in order to receive the lucrative contracts,” U.S. attorney Bill Nettles‘ office said in a statement.
The alleged scam began back in 2002.
Monk’s article failed to mention the specific contracts obtained via the alleged scam, but sources close to the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) tell us more than one of the defendants have ties to the embattled agency.
In fact we’ve been able to confirm that one of the individuals charged – Jerry Eddins of Aspermont, Texas – has been contracted to do work with SCDOT in the past.
Also of interest? One of the powerful attorneys representing Eddins – who apparently never faced scrutiny from state prosecutors – is former SCDOT commission chairman Henry Taylor.
Monk failed to make that connection, too.
Finally, Monk failed to pick up on an obvious link between this story and another questionable “disadvantaged business enterprise.”
We’re referring, of course, to the scandal surrounding powerful S.C. Senate president Hugh Leatherman, whose concrete company was busted last December receiving $1.9 million worth of disadvantaged business contracts “that otherwise would have gone to minority businesses more fully meeting the spirit, not just the letter” of the bidding standard.
Of interest? Not a single mainstream media outlet in the state picked up on that story, which was originally exposed by reporter Ron Aiken.
Hell, Monk still hasn’t reported on it …
Anyway, the federal indictments come one week after a trio of former SCDOT bureaucrats were indicted by the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.
According to our sources, those indictments represented “the tip of the iceberg” of corruption at the agency.
Which is understandable given the agency’s culture …