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Monday, March 13, 2006

Coon Dog Bribery Leads to a Million Dollars for Buchanan County

This from United States Attorney John L. Brownlee:

United States Attorney John L. Brownlee announced today that Buchanan County has been granted $1,050,554 from money forfeited to the United States from defendants involved in “Operation Big Coon Dog.”

“Throughout this investigation and prosecution, we had two major goals: finding justice for the people who suffered through the Hurley Flood of 2002, and ensuring that this kind of public corruption was rooted out,” said United States Attorney John Brownlee. “We have accomplished those goals. It is gratifying to be able to present the people of Buchanan County with the assistant that is rightfully theirs.”

The money was forfeited from 16 defendants who were convicted of paying bribes and bid rigging. Beginning in May 2002, after the Hurley Flood, approximately $545,000 in bribes were paid by vendors and contractors to public officials in an effort to obtain over $8 million in federal and state money for repair and cleanup contracts from Buchanan County officials. The bribes were paid in cash, with Coon Dogs, ATVs, trucks, hunting trips, fraudulent land deals, and tickets to sporting events. All 16 defendants have been convicted and sentenced.

“Public officials must comply with the same laws as the citizens they were elected to serve. The acceptance of bribes and illegal kickbacks by public officials is a very serious breach of the public trust. As this case shows, no one is above the law,” said Charles R. Pine, IRS Special Agent In Charge of the Alexandria Field Office.

“On behalf of the residents of Buchanan County, I commend Mr. Brownlee, Mr. Bondurant, Ms. Bockhorst, Mr. Barnett, Mr. Snapp and the entire team for a tremendous job accomplished for the people of Buchanan County. Although the County was deeply hurt by the actions of those convicted in this case, we now have the opportunity to use this money, which is rightfully being returned to the County, to benefit the County’s citizens and continue its progress and growth,” said W.J. Caudill, Buchanan County Administrator.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS.

Assistant United States Attorney Thomas J. Bondurant, Criminal Chief, and Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Bockhorst prosecuted the case.

Picture: "Coon Dogs" by Arthur Clark, age 18


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