Private Construction Contractor Forced to ‘Pay to Play’
ATLANTA—A DeKalb County Department of Public Works engineering supervisor who extorted money from a private construction contractor was sentenced today to serve three years in federal prison on charges of extortion, announced Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Fidelis Ogbu, 60, of DeKalb County, Georgia, had previously been indicted by a federal grand jury on March 6, 2012, on charges of extortion and bribery and entered his guilty plea on April 4, 2012.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Mr. Ogbu abused his position as a DeKalb County Public Works employee by shaking down a local contractor. Today, the court sentenced him to three years in prison for violating the law and the public’s trust.”
Ogbu was sentenced to three years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. While on supervised release, he must perform 100 hours of community service.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Ogbu, an engineering supervisor for DeKalb County Department of Public Works-Transportation, exploited his position by extorting money from a private construction contractor, who was working with law enforcement as a good Samaritan confidential source. Ogbu executed a “pay to play” scheme in which he compelled the contractor to pay him off in order for the contractor to complete the project and to gain future work.
More specifically, in September 2010, a private construction company was awarded a federally funded contract by DeKalb County, Georgia to construct sidewalks near the intersection of S. Hairston Road and Wesley Chapel Road. The total bid for the project was more than $1.4 million. Ogbu was the DeKalb County engineering supervisor of the project.
On July 18, 2011, Ogbu and the contractor met to discuss the design and construction of a driveway on S. Hairston Road in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Depending on the design, the contractor estimated that the driveway would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 to construct. Ogbu agreed to approve funding for the project, so long as the contractor agreed to pay off Ogbu.
On July 19, 2011, the contractor again met with Ogbu. During their meeting, Ogbu demanded that the contractor pay him approximately $30,000, implying that without the payment the contractor would lose the driveway job and that the project would be completed by DeKalb County’s Roads and Drainage Department.
On August 31, 2011, the contractor met with Ogbu in Stone Mountain, Georgia in order for the contractor to pay Ogbu part of the $30,000 demand. During the meeting, the contractor gave Ogbu a $9,800 payment.
On September 16, 2011, the contractor again met with Ogbu in Stone Mountain, Georgia and gave Ogbu a $8,500 payment.
Finally, on November 4, 2011, the contractor met with Ogbu to pay him $9,800. Before the payment was made, law enforcement officers arrested Ogbu.
This case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.Pressemails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.