COLUMBIA — Three former S.C. Department of Transportation employees and a contractor were indicted by the state grand jury on corruption allegations involving contract work, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
The former employees were based at the District 1 DOT offices in Columbia and were indicted last week in three different kickback schemes. The indictments remained under seal until Thursday.
Charles W. Shirley, a former field operations manager of the Intelligent Transportation Systems division, was indicted on six counts, including criminal conspiracy and misconduct in office for allegedly scamming more than $360,000 from the agency.
The indictment says Shirley conspired with his neighbor Allen Kent Ray to contract with DOT for information technology services from March 2010 until July 2015.
Shirley oversaw the contracts awarded to Pine Ridge Specialty Services LLC, the company the two formed. Secretary of State records show the company was registered to Ray at 850 Gary Hallman Circle in Leesville.
The indictment states Shirley would remove large amounts of money from Pine Ridge’s bank account for himself or funnel it through other companies posing as legitimate vendors.
Ray was charged on one count of criminal conspiracy and one count offering something of value to influence a public employee.
Curtis C. Singleton, the former head of DOT’s District 1 signal shop, which maintains and installs traffic signals, was charged with four counts stemming from alleged cash bribes and kickbacks he demanded from contractors whose work he supervised.
The indictments say Singleton demanded $3,700 in bribes from contractors in Lexington County in exchange for his approval of their work between May 2008 and November 2014. And he demanded a contractor sell him a truck for $10,000 below market value to keep receiving DOT work and his approval, according to the indictment.
One contractor was ordered to overcharge for fiber optic cable so Singleton could pocket $2,500, while another was charged $2,000 for traffic poles and Singleton charged a subcontractor $4,000 for DOT fiber optic cable, the indictment states.
Singleton was charged under two indictments. His second indictment included six counts against him, four of which were for receiving anything of value to influence action of a public employee. The charge carries up to 10 years in prison.
Former DOT inspector Joe Edward Butler was charged with the same four counts as Singleton, three counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent and one count of acceptance of rebates or extra compensation.
The indictment alleges that Butler sold traffic signal equipment to contractors on 14 occasions. Once, Butler received $4,000 for new traffic controllers and told the contractor they were untraceable since they had not been put in DOT’s system.
The indictment says Butler approached contractors in late 2014 to sell two DOT-owned traffic signal cabinets for half their value. According to the indictment, contractors would pick up the cabinets and hand Butler $7,000 for them at a gas station. His pay-to-play scheme allegedly netted $28,500.
DOT Secretary Christy Hall acknowledged the indictments of the former employees following a lengthy investigation.
“DOT has zero tolerance for wrongdoing of any kind and wishes to express its appreciation for the hard work of both the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the SC Attorney General’s Office,” Hall said in a statement.
DOT District 1 is based in Columbia and encompasses Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Richland, Sumter counties.
The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General S. Creighton Waters and Assistant Attorneys General Brian Petrano and Joel Kozak.