FBI launches investigation of "garage gate"

Action News 5 has learned that the FBI has officially opened an investigation into the FedExForum parking garage, the bus terminal that is supposed to be there and the money that was supposed to have paid for it.

The letter is short.  But to City Councilman Tom Marshall it couldn't have carried more punch.  "It was very clear that the FBI is in the process of investigating," he says.

They're investigating the FedExForum parking garage.  In the original plans, there was supposed to be an intermodal transfer facility - a bus terminal - built there.  And the City got twenty million to build it.  But no one ever did.

The City has already been fined six million dollars.

In the letter, sent on Friday to the City Council's Chairperson, U.S. Attorney David Kustoff writes "we have referred the matter to the FBI to conduct a criminal investigation.  However, the FBI will not investigate this matter for any civil infractions."

To former Federal prosecutor Hickman Ewing Junior, that means the feds are looking for intent.

"Let's say the City received 20 million dollars and they didn't use it like they were supposed to use it.  Well, that might be a civil thing.  It might be that the City owes them the money back.  But it might not be a crime," he says.

Federal authorities are involved - according to the letter - because four City Council members asked them to be.  And now, Council Chair Tajuan Stout Mitchell is asking City leaders to cooperate with the FBI.

Meanwhile, Marshall says the City Council will continue its own separate inquiry it began weeks ago.

"It's my hope that there's no criminal wrongdoing here.  But we can't turn a blind eye.  It's our job to make sure that the tax dollars are spent correctly," he says.

He says the Council will continue to dig deeper on its own.

And they're not the only ones.  At this moment, there are four separate government bodies looking into the same sordid business.  The City Council, the Shelby County Commission, The FBI - as we're reporting tonight - and the State Comptroller's office, upon the request of the District Attorney Bill Gibbons.