Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Is Just The Beginning

Today former County Commissioner Bruce Thompson was indicted for mail fraud and extortion in accordance with MCS building contracts. Oh, don't worry Mr. Thompson will get his just due, but so will some other unlikely elected officials. It may come to light how much school board members are receiving in addition to their annual $5,000 salaries. I bet Wanda Halbert and Sara Lewis hated the announcement almost as much as Bruce Thompson himself. Wanda Halbert will have to revisit that $2000 mysterious campaign story, which she didn't do such a good job with the first time. Sarah Lewis may be unbossed, but is she unbought? Former school board member "Pastor Hubon Dutch Sandridge", has already shown us he'll take a bribe. Remember the bus he took from that transportation company? I think he calls them charitable donations he accepts thru his church. Some of those people are no longer on the school board, but don't overlook the new ones. Maybe not in this particular incident, but this isn't the last one by a long shot. I think sooner than later we'll see, board member Tomeka Hart's hands are dirty too. I would love to be a fly on the wall at the next city school board meeting. There's going to be so much shaking in that room, it's going to feel like a tremor. I figured this indictment would be soon to come when Thompson hired Attorney Leslie Ballin. That isn't an automatic admission of guilt, but it's not a good sign either. He Maintains his innocence, but what do you expect? Some other indictments are on the horizon. This is just the beginning.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commissioner indicted on extortion, mail fraud

By Marc Perrusquia (Contact)
Originally published 12:27 p.m., November 13, 2007
Updated 01:44 p.m., November 13, 2007

A federal grand jury this morning indicted former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson on four corruption counts for allegedly steering a government contract to a construction firm.

Thompson, 48, was charged with one count of extortion and three counts of mail fraud in connection with helping a Jackson, Tenn., company win a lucrative city schools contract in 2004.

As a sitting commissioner in 2004 and 2005, Thompson was paid more than $270,000 by H&M Company of Jackson to help it land a $46.7 million contract to build three city schools, the indictment charges.

Thompson allegedly extorted the money out of H&M and its joint venture minority partner, Salton-Fox Construction Company LLC, by representing himself as a power broker who could pull political strings in Shelby County.

Grand jurors charged that in a scheme to defraud H&M, Thompson would “falsely represent to representatives of the joint venture ... that by reason of his position as a Shelby County Commissioner he had the ability to control the votes of members of the Memphis City School Board in connection with the awarding of a contract to construct 3 schools....’’

As part of the scheme, Thompson also “would falsely represent ... that he had made commitments to give campaign contributions to certain members of the Memphis City School Board, and that without payment of these contributions through him, to certain Memphis City School Board members, the ability of the joint venture to successfully obtain the contracts to build three schools ... would be in jeopardy.’’

Thompson, an East Memphis Republican, joins a long list of public officials from the Memphis area implicated in corruption allegations as part of the federal government’s continued, intense scrutiny of lawmakers. He is the second county commissioner to be charged. Former commissioner Michael Hooks pleaded guilty to bribery last year and is serving a 26-month sentence at Federal Prison Camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

FBI agents have been focused on Thompson since The Commercial Appeal reported his financial arrangement with H&M early this year. Grand jurors have heard testimony from several witnesses, including City Council Chairman Tom Marshall, an architect who worked on the school projects; school board member and City Councilwoman-elect Wanda Halbert; and former school board members Sara Lewis and Hubon Sandridge.

Witnesses who appeared before the grand jury last month told the newspaper that Thompson passed $2,000 in cash to Halbert just weeks before the school board voted on the H&M contract. Halbert denies ever receiving the money.

The money was passed to Halbert through an intermediary, said Kirby Salton, a minority contractor involved in the deal.

Salton told The Commercial Appeal that Thompson told him to give Halbert $2,000 — in cash — money disguised as campaign contributions from Salton and his wife.

“Bruce Thompson directed the whole thing,’’ Salton told The Commercial Appeal. “He said Wanda’s campaign was in financial trouble. She needed the money. He instructed me to make sure it was in cash.’’

Although the money was received in 2004 it wasn’t reported to the Shelby County Election Commission until last month.

Halbert filed an amendment to her 2004 campaign report declaring receipt of a $2,000 contribution from Thompson and Salton. Halbert filed the amendment on Oct. 19 — one day after FBI agents questioned her.

She told a reporter she never knew of the donation until hearing about it from the FBI.

A city school board member since 2000, Halbert was elected to the City Council on Oct. 4 and is to take office on Jan. 1.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't leave out Dedria Malone.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is awfully hush hush. I wonder why?

3:40 PM  
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