Engineer Tells FBI He Leaked "Secret" Bids To Road Contractor

LONDON, Ky. -- Road contractor Leonard Lawson paid $20,000 in cash to a state highway engineer who was helping leak confidential bid information on state contracts to Lawson, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal in its Saturday edition.

On about eight occasions during 2006 and 2007, engineer James Rummage was directed by Lawson or then-Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert to obtain the Transportation Cabinet's cost estimates for state contracts -- estimates that are to be kept secret until bids are opened, the affidavit states, reports veteran C-J Frankfort Bureau Chief Tom Loftus.

Investigators believe Lawson also made "illegal payments" to Nighbert using a business as a conduit, the affidavit states.

The affidavit was given by FBI Special Agent T. Clay Mason to obtain court approval of search warrants for two businesses that Mason said were believed to have records relating to payments made to Nighbert, reports the C-J, in its exclusive report.

The search warrants were approved, and on Monday agents searched offices of the company that allegedly made the payments, Utility Management Group of Pikeville, the affidavit said.

Also searched, it said, were the offices of a Corbin accounting firm, Marr, Miller & Myers.

Copies of the warrants, a list of the documents and computers seized and Mason's affidavit were obtained by The Courier-Journal from the U.S. District Court clerk's office in London.

Rummage, who retired from state government in March, is cooperating with investigators. And the affidavit says that before he retired he "conducted a number of consensual recordings with Lawson and others."

"Lawson told Rummage on one tape that 'they can't trace cash' and made overt offers to assist Rummage with finding and paying for an attorney," Mason's affidavit says. "He also encouraged Rummage to 'take the Fifth' at an upcoming Grand Jury session and to get an attorney they could work with," the C-J reports.

Lawson, of Lexington, has been a major road contractor and political contributor in Kentucky for more than 20 years. He and his family own interests in construction companies that do business in the central and south-central parts of the state, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Copyright - The Louisville Courier-Journal
www.courier-journal.com


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Butch Location: barley fields on Aug 12, 2008 at 07:38 PM
    the Walter May Foundation has to have close links to Mr. Lawson, thats where the next investigation needs to go.
  • by TIM Location: MANCHESTER KY on Aug 11, 2008 at 09:32 AM
    If anyone thinks that this is the first time stuff like this has happened, think again! I worked for state government for 25 years and most all the top officials are nothing but theives and bullies! They are appointed by the top thief, the governor! These individuals are not interested in SERVING the public, they are after as much MONEY as they can get and POWER to control someone else! I saw road contractors that shouldn't have been given the job, get the job, not based on the bids at all, but on who they knew. That's how politics work in this state and this country! It's not what you know, it's WHO you know! I'm just glad I'm retired and don't have to put up with that kind on nonsense anymore! I feel sorry for current state employees, the pay/benefits is not worth what they have to endure! I'm talking about the employees who actually WORK, not the bosses who play politics to get their positions in the first place! So this story is not news to me, so true
  • by David Location: Pikeville on Aug 11, 2008 at 07:35 AM
    Now.....lets wait and see who gets the next pay off from Mr Lawson's to get this black eye to go away. Once a crook aways a crook.
  • by Willford Dotson on Aug 11, 2008 at 05:36 AM
    You really think everyone in Kentucky didn't know this,Wake up FBI.Pike Co. is as crooked as the creeks that run thru it.
  • by c Location: fkt on Aug 11, 2008 at 04:05 AM
    If anyone thinks that this is the first time stuff like this has happened, think again! I worked for state government for 25 years and most all the top officials are nothing but theives and bullies! They are appointed by the top thief, the governor! These individuals are not interested in SERVING the public, they are after as much MONEY as they can get and POWER to control someone else! I saw road contractors that shouldn't have been given the job, get the job, not based on the bids at all, but on who they knew. That's how politics work in this state and this country! It's not what you know, it's WHO you know! I'm just glad I'm retired and don't have to put up with that kind on nonsense anymore! I feel sorry for current state employees, the pay/benefits is not worth what they have to endure! I'm talking about the employees who actually WORK, not the bosses who play politics to get their positions in the first place! So this story is not news to me, just history repeating itself!
  • by skyhawk Location: Lexington on Aug 11, 2008 at 04:00 AM
    If they find Nighbert guilty he can share a cell with his son!
  • by Mary Location: Richmond on Aug 10, 2008 at 08:26 PM
    Actually, Anonymous, I think the Lord gives us free will in order that we can either choose to follow Him or not...He isn't a authoritarian god but one who gives us all the chances we need to choose to straighten ourselves out. He won't do it for us, and we can't blame Him for our failures...it's something each individual has to choose to do on his or her own. That's the beauty of it all! (P.S. God is not Republican or Demorcrat...he's non-partisan all the way, and if someone misinterprets Him...again we get all the chances we need to seek His wisdom!) I'm glad...because I continue to need His wisdom every day of my life!
  • by Anonymous on Aug 10, 2008 at 08:11 AM
    If that is the case, Mary, god is really behind on straightening people out. Perhaps he's to busy killing iraqis to care about republican shananagans.
  • by Mary Location: Richmond on Aug 9, 2008 at 07:17 PM
    Let's pray for all these individuals...that they will have a change of heart and see that money is not the root of happiness...Of course everyone needs enough, but after that the relentless pursuit of riches only leads to downfall. Hopefully there will be much good that comes from even this bad situation...and I think that there will be. People who are in pursuit of money at all costs are just looking for love like the rest of us...but don't know where or how to find true love, peace, joy, happiness, and contentment (you know...all those fruits of the spirit...) Of course, they will have to accept responsibility for things they may have done wrong (alleged only...) and then vow never to do that again if ever in the same position...Sometimes the Lord has to knock us over the head and almost out before we understand!!
  • by Anonymous on Aug 9, 2008 at 10:32 AM
    More evidence of how crooked Nighbert operated!

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