Convicted Safety Contractor Wants New Lawyer

February 27, 2013

A former Tennessee Valley Authority contract safety manager wants to fire his lawyer as he awaits sentencing on a fraud conviction.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Walter Cardin told U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Collier at a hearing on Monday that attorney Bruce Gardner had not returned his calls or emails since the November trial. Cardin, who is 55, was convicted on eight counts of fraud.

Jurors found Cardin – who is from Metairie, La. – guilty of providing false and misleading information about injuries at nuclear power plants. The information covered the Browns Ferry, Sequoyah and Watts Bar plants during the period 2004-2006.

Court documents show that by making false reports about the injuries, the safety numbers were kept low and the paid the Shaw Group more than $2.5 million in safety bonuses.

At trial, jurors heard evidence of more than 80 injuries. Documents state broken bones, torn ligaments, hernias, lacerations and injuries to shoulders, backs and knees were not properly recorded by Cardin.

Collier told Cardin there was no constitutional reason to remove Gardner. The judge also informed Gardner he cannot revoke Collier’s agreement on a potential conflict hearing.

“The court not only does not have a crystal ball, it does not possess a magic wand,” Collier said. “What’s happened in the past is in the past.”

Cardin is represented by attorney Bruce Gardner of Huntsville, Ala.

Before the trial, federal prosecutors filed documents asking Collier to review whether there could be an interest conflict because Gardner was being paid by Shaw Group, Cardin’s former employer. The company also faced allegations because its employee had been involved in fraud against the government.

Cardin told Collier in court that Gardner had represented him since 2006 and he trusted the lawyer’s work.

But on Monday, Cardin said he didn’t know what to do because of the lack of communication.

Cardin faces up to eight years in prison. A sentencing date has been set.

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