Three men pleaded guilty Monday as part of an ongoing case into corruption at the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).
The State Attorney General’s Office announced guilty pleas from former SCDOT employees Joe Butler and Curtis Singleton and contractor Allen Ray on various charges, including bribery, accessory to criminal conspiracy, and misconduct in office. The three men will not be sentenced until their cooperation for the state’s investigation of fellow or potential future defendants.
Singleton was the former head of SCDOT’s District One signal shop in the Midlands. A grand jury indictment handed down last July states Singleton on at least three occasions demanded bribes from contractors working on projects involving his shop. According to prosecutors, Singleton sought and received a $1,200 payment in 2011 from a contractor involved with signal work on a Lexington County intersection. He also demanded another business owner sell him a truck, which the contractor did for $10,000 less than market value. Prosecutors said a third supplier was told to mark up its price by $3,400. The indictment states Singleton received $2,500 of the total.
He pleaded guilty Monday to using his official position for financial gain, four counts of receiving an item of value to influence his actions as a public employee, misconduct in office, and accepting rebates or extra compensation.
Butler was a former SCDOT inspector who prosecutors claim made an arrangement with a contractor where Butler agreed to steal supplies and equipment from his agency and sell it to the contractor. He pleaded guilty to four counts of receiving anything of value to influence action of public employee and one count of acceptance of rebates or extra compensation. Prosecutors dropped three breach of trust charges they had also sought against Butler, who left the position in November 2014.
Ray pleaded guilty to one count each of accessory after the fact criminal conspiracy and offering money for the advice or assistance of a public employee. An indictment against him states Ray formed a company in partnership with former SCDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems field operations manager Charles Shirley to do contracting work through Shirley’s department. The indictment states Shirley then used his position to make sure that company was awarded work. In exchange, Ray paid the SCDOT manager $360,000 over the course of the scheme.
Shirley died after being indicted last year.
“SCDOT takes fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer funds seriously and will continue to cooperate with SLED and the SC Attorney General’s Office until this matter is brought to a conclusion,” SCDOT said in a brief statement after the guilty pleas were accepted.