Sewer Scandal in Birmingham

Roland PughConstruction, two of its executives and several Jefferson County, Ala.-workerswere charged with a 34-count indictment on Feb. 7 by a federal grand jury.

Company CEO Grady R. Pugh and president Joseph E. “Eddie” Yessick, havebeen charged with bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud. The bribery charge stemsfrom allegations that Pugh, Yessick and the company offered bribes to countyemployees in the hopes of influencing them to support Roland Pugh Constructionin sewer construction work.

The indictment goes on to say that theemployees accepted these bribes. Jack W. Swann, Jefferson County’s environmentalservices director, is accused of accepting $100,000 worth of landscaping work attwo of his homes, as well as $7,400 for a waterfall and pond at one of theresidences. Harry Chandler, Swann’s top deputy, allegedly received freelandscaping, as well as vacation trips to Florida and Gulf shores. The otheremployees accused of receiving favors are Clarence Barber, Ronald Wilson andLarry Creel.

The indicted employees worked within two groups in thecounty’s Environmental Services Department. The sewer program, once estimated tocost $1 billion, rose to a total cost of $3 billion and led to sewer rates morethan tripling.

The federal investigation that led to the current casebegan in 2002.
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