United States Attorney John Brownlee announced that Earl “Roho” Lester, of Conaway, Virginia, was found guilty of conspiracy and money laundering by a Jury sitting in Abingdon, Va.
Lester was the owner of LEET Construction Company. He was one of 16 defendants charged in connection with a public corruption racketeering scheme.
The charges center around the Hurley flood of May 2002 in Buchanan County when the federal and state governments funneled approximately $5 million into Buchanan County as relief effort for clean up operations related to the disaster. County officials were given the responsibility by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to award contract to local vendors for the flood clean up efforts.
Approximately $545,000 in bribes were reportedly paid by vendors and contractors to obtain the approximately $7.6 million in contracts from the county public officials. The bribes included cash, Coon Dogs, All Terrain Vehicles, trucks, fraudulent land deals, NASCAR tickets, firearms, University of Tennessee football tickets, clothing, and a wide screen television with surround sound.
“The floods of 2002 devastated Buchanan County. Lester and the 15 others involved in this scheme violated the law and the trust of the people during a time when their services and leadership were needed most. Today’s conviction sends a message that this type of corruption will never be tolerated,” said Brownlee.
The 15 other defendants have already pled guilty.
Lester, who was freed on $10,000 bond, could face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
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