Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentences Bloomington public official to federal prison
Concrete jobs for roads and sidewalks rewarded with bribes and kickbacks
INDIANAPOLIS – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today the sentencing of a former Bloomington public official for one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Justin Wykoff, 44, Bloomington, to 55 months in federal prison today.
“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. Judge Walton Pratt’s 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.”
Wykoff, was the Manager for Engineering Services for the City of Bloomington and pled guilty in federal court in March 2015, to 11 counts of wire fraud. He was responsible for bidding and awarding contracts for public works projects in the City of Bloomington, like road paving and sidewalk construction. Between April 2011 to February 2014, Wykoff solicited and received substantial cash bribes and kickbacks from Roger Hardin and Zach Hardin, who operated a company called Reliable Concrete and Construction. In exchange for the kickbacks, Wykoff assisted the Hardins in obtaining over $800,000 in city construction contracts and payments for Reliable Concrete.
Wykoff estimated project costs and prepared bid proposals, using his inside information to ensure Reliable Concrete was the low bidder. In some cases, Wykoff awarded city contracts to Reliable Concrete outright without obtaining bids from other contractors. Wykoff also authorized city payments to Reliable Concrete totaling approximately $807,000. Of that amount, approximately $300,000 was for work that was never completed by Reliable Concrete.
Wykoff and the Hardins took steps to conceal their scheme by creating false Reliable Concrete bid proposals after the fact. On February 17, 2014, Wykoff went to Roger Hardin’s home and created multiple bid proposal forms for projects that the City of Bloomington had already paid Reliable Concrete for – even though Reliable Concrete had not performed the work. The forms were backdated to coincide with the dates that the work was supposed to have taken place. Wykoff initialed or signed these forms as if he had approved the bids and then planted copies of the forms in his office in an attempt to further conceal the scheme.
Roger Hardin was sentenced to 33 months for his role in the scheme. His son, Zachary was sentenced to 12 months. All three are equally responsible for restitution of over $400,000 to the City of Bloomington.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Bloomington Police Department.
FBI Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott stated, “Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities and FBI Agents remain committed to pursuing those individuals that violate the public’s trust.”
According to Senior Litigation Counsel Steve DeBrota and Assistant United States Attorney Nick Linder, who are prosecuting the case for the government, Wykoff must serve 3 years of supervised release after his sentence.