Former Washington DOT official indicted

Published 4:21 am Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Staff Reporter
A former North Carolina Department of Transportation official responsible for bridge maintenance in Beaufort and Pitt counties has been charged with taking kickbacks, according to a federal grand jury indictment obtained by the Daily News.
The indictment alleges Dalton Ray Alligood Jr. netted more than $40,000 by taking 10 percent kickbacks on no-bid contracts he was able to steer through his position with the D.O.T.
Alligood faces two counts of extortion and 23 counts of mail fraud, because the state paid the contractors through the mail.
Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment or a $250,000 fine or both per count, Robin Zier, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the eastern district of North Carolina, wrote in an e-mail. Scheme and artifice to defraud others of honest services through mail fraud carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison or a $250,000 fine or both per count, she wrote. Both charges also carried periods of supervised release, Zier said.
The indictment came as the result of an investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and several other agencies, Zier said in a phone interview. She declined to comment on how investigators came to suspect Alligood.
Invoices for specialized rental equipment and employees to operate them, provided as part of the no-bid contracts, were approved by Alligood’s office in Washington, where he supervised 32 employees, the indictment indicated. Alligood’s immediate supervisor was in the New Bern office, not the Washington office, said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott.
After Alligood’s office approved the invoices, they were sent to a D.O.T. office in Raleigh, which sent checks to the companies.
Alligood regularly received 10 percent of the sum of the checks in cash from two companies, the indictment claims. The companies hoped to receive more contracts by paying the kickbacks, the indictment claims.
Alligood’s first arrangement — with an excavating company — began “on or about May 11, 2005” according to the indictment. The excavation company had received two no-bid contracts already when the bribery started, the indictment added.
Alligood collected about $31,000 from the excavation company and about $8,000 from a hauling company, according to the indictment.
The kickbacks from the hauling company began “in or about June of 2006,” according to the indictment.
The $8,000 represented a reduction from the standard-rate bribe on more than $100,000 in contracts because the hauling company’s owner was in “dire financial straits,” according to the indictment. At 10 percent, the company would have paid at least another $2,000.
The indictment alleges that the last date of any criminal activity with the excavation company was “on or about Dec. 22, 2006.” The indictment doesn’t specify an ending date for activity with the hauling company.
Alligood became division engineer for bridge maintenance in 2003, according to the indictment. He made $42,000 per year when he stopped working for the D.O.T. in May 2007, Abbott said.
Alligood was arrested Jan. 30 and released by a federal magistrate on his own recognizance pending an arraignment on April 6 in Raleigh.
A call to Alligood’s home was referred to his lawyer, James Ayers of New Bern. A telephone request for comment from Ayers wasn’t returned Tuesday evening.
Cutline for corresponding photo: A former DOT employee who worked at this Washington facility has been charged with accepting kickbacks. (WDN Photo/Ted Strong)