Category Archives: Public corruption

Your Tax Dollars at Work: VDOT Snow Removal Edition

VDOT snow removal. Photo credit: Reston Now.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has largely cleaned up its act from the early 2000s when construction projects routinely ran behind schedule and over budget. But this story from Inside NoVA makes one wonder if its internal controls are still up to snuff.

Five people, including two state transportation officials, pleaded guilty this week to a bribery scheme involving more than $10.3 million in snow removal contracts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. …

Over five years, Kenneth Duane Adams, 42, of Fairfax, and Anthony Willie, 55, of Culpeper, made agreements with several owners and operators of trucking and snow removal companies seeking work during snow storms, [U.S. Attorney’s Office Joshua] Stueve said, including Rolando Pineda Moran, 46, of Alexandria, and John Williamson, 51, of Springfield.

Beginning in the late 2012 and continuing through the 2016‑2017 snow season, Willie and Adams would often meet the snow removal contractors at local restaurants, grocery stores and parking lots in Burke and Fairfax, collecting approximately $440,000 in cash bribes, Stueve said.

Adams also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine after law enforcement recovered approximately 129 grams of cocaine and related drug paraphernalia at Adams’ residence during the execution of a search warrant. Stueve said Adams also admitted to previously distributing cocaine to others, including several of his colleagues at VDOT, and to obtaining cocaine from a relative of one of his VDOT co-workers.

It’s not clear from the story how the authorities were tipped off to the bribes and drug distribution. If VDOT’s internal auditors discovered it, well, we can infer that its internal controls are working, even if a bit belatedly. If local cops or state police uncovered the wrongdoing, then VDOT needs to take a closer look at its controls. Time for random drug tests, perhaps?

(Hat tip: Larry Gross)

Great Moments in Virginia Governance: Norfolk Edition

burfoot under indictment for corruptionFrom the Virginian-Pilot: An employee of Norfolk Treasurer Anthony Burfoot testified in U.S. District Court Monday that she waived penalties and fees for local developers at the direction of her boss.

Prosecutors allege that Dwight Etheridge, Tommy Arney, Ronnie Boone Sr. and others paid Burfoot more than $400,000 in kickbacks and bribes between 2005 and early 2011. In exchange, prosecutors say, Burfoot helped, or at least promised to help, their various projects through the city bureaucracy.

The office of Treasurer is not one I think of as influencing development decisions. Treasurers don’t even influence real estate assessments — that’s the job in Virginia of commissioners of revenue. It will be interesting to see, as this trial unfolds, what kind of favors are within the purview of a city or county treasurer to grant. If Burfoot turns out to be guilty, other jurisdictions might think of turning over the same rock to see what kind of nastiness resides beneath.

mccabeUpdate: Oh, brother, now accusations of corruption extend to Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe. Quoth the Virginian-Pilot: “Businessman Ronnie Boone Sr. told federal investigators he bribed longtime Sheriff Bob McCabe in addition to Treasurer Anthony Burfoot, according to two sources familiar with the interview.”