FBI asked to investigate FedExForum garage

City Council members learned Wednesday the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into the FedExForum parking garage.

In a letter to Council leadership, U.S. Attorney David Kustoff said he has received requests from four different City Council members for an inquiry, and has referred the matter to the FBI to conduct a criminal investigation.

The letter was sent to the City Council's Chairperson, TaJuan Stout Mitchell, and long-serving Council member Tom Marshall confirmed he was notified Wednesday.

"It's our opinion that this is authentic," Marshall said, "that it's going forward and it's in keeping with the wishes of four members of the City Council."

At issue is a $20 million intermodal transfer facility, a bus terminal that was never built.  The money came from the federal government, and a recent state audit required that the city pay back $6 million of that money.

Marshall said he expects the Council will continue its own investigation into the matter despite the fact that the Feds are now on the case.

Meanwhile, Wednesday, a Shelby County Commission committee moved to do the same thing, voting to authorize its own investigation.  The county attorney will now look into the garage controversy.

Commissioner John Willingham said Wednesday's announcement of an FBI probe validates his claims that something was amiss.

"I'm very pleased," Willingham said. "Yes I am."
Other commissioners said they hoped the FBI investigation would reveal the truth.

"If certain corners were cut," said Commissioner Bruce Thompson, "if we violated contractual agreements in order to accomplish those goals, then I think we need to know that and address that so it doesn't happen again."

The bottom line will be finding out who made changes to the garage plans after federal funds were secured.

"I think that whoever had the authority to make that change and make those changes after the fact should be held responsible," Willingham said.
The goal will be to find out who that person was.  There are now three investigations: City, County, and Federal.

Both the City of Memphis and Shelby County have deferred to the Feds in the past.  Officials say it is possible, after voting to open their own probe Wednesday, that the County could let the FBI do all the heavy work.