CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey praised Acting U.S. Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen for her office’s successful prosecution of a kickback scheme set to yield $510,000 in restitution paid to the state of West Virginia.
Federal prosecutors, acting upon a referral from Morrisey’s office, unraveled a scheme in which a state highways engineer accepted bribes to route structure inspection work toward a Putnam County electrical business and a subcontractor that completed the projects in Berkeley County and northern West Virginia.
The AGs office, upon a thorough review of the case, rests satisfied that the court ordered $510,000 in restitution will fully compensate the state.
“I commend Acting U.S. Attorney Jividen for her office’s vigorous prosecution of this matter,” Morrisey said. “Together, our offices recognize the scarcity of taxpayer dollars and the harm caused by mismanagement. We cannot stand for such behavior. I also commend my staff for referring the matter. This exemplifies what can happen when government offices work together."
“This case is another example of the outstanding level of success that is possible when state and federal law enforcement entities work so well together to investigate and prosecute criminal activity,” she said. “On behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office, I would like to thank all participating law enforcement organizations, particularly Attorney General Morrisey’s office.”
She also thanked those for their committed assistance and valued contributions in the two-year, joint investigation, including as well, the WV Commission on Special Investigations, the WV State Police, the FBI and the IRS.
“We are especially pleased that not only was all taxpayer money lost as a result of this criminal scheme, returned to the state, but also that the IRS recovered federal tax monies, and that the defendant public official has been ordered to forfeit all illegally obtained proceeds," she said. "The outcome in this case is truly the product of exceptional team work and cooperation among our respective agencies, and we will continue working together to achieve such results in our further investigative endeavors.”
Dennis Corporation of South Carolina and Mark Ruldolph Whitt, former president and owner of Bayliss & Ramey Inc. near Winfield, must pay $500,000 combined to the state as restitution. The amount offsets profits both contractors received at the expense of West Virginia taxpayers.
Additionally, Andrew P. Nichols agreed to pay $10,000 in restitution to the state for his involvement in initiating and facilitating the scheme as manager of Dennis Corporation's West Virginia operation.
The state engineer who accepted the bribes received nearly two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire and tax fraud. Bayliss & Ramey Inc., a senior executive for Dennis Corporation and another Dennis Corporation employee also entered into agreements to resolve their involvement in the case.