08/26/11 — Arrests made in school district inquiry

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Arrests made in school district inquiry

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 26, 2011 1:46 PM

U.S. District Court officials confirmed this morning that four people have been charged and a fifth is still under investigation following an inquiry by the FBI into "public corruption" of the awarding of roofing contracts by the Wayne County Public Schools' maintenance department and the Goldsboro Housing Authority.

The investigation, which was initiated in June 2009 and became public in December of that year, initially resulted in the departure of an assistant superintendent and the director of maintenance being placed on administrative leave.

On Friday, court officials confirmed that Danny Lee Langley, 54, of Snow Hill, former school maintenance director, and Earl Wayne Rhodes, 58, of Pikeville, former assistant maintenance director, have been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, and are currently being detained.

Also charged in connection to the investion are:

* Jimmie Lewis Farmer, 59, of Goldsboro, director of development and safety at Goldsboro Housing Authority, charged with obstruction/aiding and abetting and making material false statements.

* David Lee Tedder, 50, of Selma, co-owner of All American Roofing in Selma, charged with false statements in connection with a loan. He later pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. No information was available today regarding co-owner Pamela Carol Turner, 45, of Selma.

The investigation centered around roofing contracts awarded to All American Roofing in Selma and allegations that the company paid a cash percentage to Langley and Rhodes in exchange for the contracts.

And it was out of that investigation that the charges against Farmer arose after it was revealed that All American won four jobs at the housing authority and one of the contracts was found to have only a single, backdated, bid, which Farmer is alleged to have lied about placing into the folder.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders announced in a press release that the investigation was initiated after someone reported to the Johnston County Sheriff's Office in June 2009 suspicions of improper actions occuring "in certain contracts being awarded by the Wayne County Public School system." Det./Lt. Shawn Harris of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and a member of the FBI Task Force was then made aware of the report and initiated the investigation.

Winders said the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation was involved originally, but after investigation turned up federal violations, the case was taken over by the FBI and other federal authorities. The Internal Revenue Service also participated.

The sheriff said officials in the school system have been and continue to be cooperative with authorities in the investigation.

Langley was placed on administrative leave with pay on Oct. 8, and was on leave until his arrest. Rhodes retired from the school system in September 2009. In December 2009, Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services, was placed on administrative leave with pay effective Dec. 17. Soon after, he retired from the district. He has not been charged.

Ken Derksen, public information officer for the district, said his office had only received limited information on the arrests, but that they are "disappointed to learn that as a result of the ongoing investigation that Mr. Langley and Mr. Rhodes, two well-respected employees in our education community, are now facing charges for illegal conduct."

"The district, along with the superintendent's office and fiscal services office, worked openly and fully cooperated with investigators, giving them full access to files, databases and staff as needed throughout the investigation," he said.

Winders also said he understands this to be "only the first phase of the investigation, that the investigation is continuing and other arrests are probably pending."

Maximum penalty for structuring transactions is up to 10 years imprisonment. For conspiring to commit bribery the maximum penalty is up to five years' imprisonment, and for bribery, for making false statements and for obstruction the maximum penalty is up to five years' imprisonment for each count.