COPY-Bruce Thompson indicted by federal grand jury - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

COPY-Bruce Thompson indicted by federal grand jury

RAW VIDEO OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE REFERENCED BELOW IS AVAILABLE IN THE PLAYER TO THE RIGHT OF THIS STORY>>>


A federal grand jury indicted former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson on four counts of corruption Tuesday morning.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE INDICTMENT>>>

At a press conference, United States Attorney David Kustoff said Thompson was charged with one count of extortion and three counts of mail fraud. The charges are related to help Thompson allegedly gave to a Jackson, Tennessee company to win a city schools contract in 2004.

Kustoff, flanked by FBI Special Agent in Charge My Harrison and federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza, spelled out what he called a scheme by Thompson to help the company, H&M Construction, and its minority partner Salton Fox, win the 2004 contract.

The indictments allege Thompson extorted money from H&M and a minority partner company by saying he had the ability to control votes of Members of the Memphis City School Board in connection to awarding the contract.

H&M paid Thompson over $270,000 for help with landing a contract to build three city schools.

"By reason of his position as a Shelby County Commissioner, he had the capacity to control the votes of the members of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education," Kustoff said.

Kustoff said as part of the scheme Thompson made it clear to H&M  he had promised to give campaign contributions to certain school board members. If the contributions were not made, Kustoff said, the construction company likely wouldn't get the contract. 

The indictment is the latest in a string of public corruption charges prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Memphis, with help from local and federal investigators.

"What can I possibly say other than same game, different name," Harrison said. "We still have those who feel that what they do under cover of darkness, what they do in the back of the room won't come to light."

It has been reported that School Board member Wanda Halbert was supposed to get some of those contributions. Halbert says she never got the money.

Federal officials said the grand jury investigation is not over with, and more could be more indictments coming.  

At the time this story was posted, Thompson had not return our requests for a comment.  He is expected to turn himself in Wednesday morning and to be arraigned at that time.

Stay with WMCTV.com for updates on this story.


You can read David Kustoff's written remarks below:

Earlier today, the grand jury returned an indictment alleging public corruption as it relates to a construction project approved by the Memphis City Board of Education.  The indictment names as a defendant, Robert Bruce Thompson aka Bruce Thompson, age 48, and a former member of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners.  The Defendant served on that body as a commissioner representing District 5 from September 1, 2002 until August 31, 2006.

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners is empowered with the authority to levy and collect taxes as well as appropriate money to be paid out of the county treasury.  The Shelby County Board of Commissioners is further entrusted to appropriate money to fund school and educational functions within Shelby County.  A part of this appropriation is the funding of the Memphis City School system.

The indictment returned today has three counts of mail fraud and one count of extortion.

The indictment alleges that the defendant, Bruce Thompson, developed a relationship with H & M Construction Company, Salton-Fox Construction Company and Kirby Salton of Salton-Fox Construction Company.  H & M Construction Company and Salton-Fox Construction Company had developed a joint venture to build three schools for the Memphis City School system, pending a vote of approval from Memphis City Board of Education.


The indictment alleges that from May 1, 2004 through a period of October 2005, the defendant, Bruce Thompson, developed a scheme and pretense to defraud through H & M Construction Company, Inc. and Salton-Fox Construction Company, LLC Joint Venture, of monies under the care custody and control of the H & M Construction Company, Inc. and Salton-Fox Construction Company. 

It was a part of the Defendant’s scheme and to defraud by falsely representing to members of the joint venture described above, that by reason of his position as a Shelby County Commissioner, he had the capability to control the votes of members of the Memphis City School Board, in connection with the awarding of a contract to construct 3 schools by the Memphis City School Board of Education.

The Indictment also alleges that it was part of the Defendant’s scheme and to defraud by falsely representing to members of the joint venture as described above, that he had made commitments to give campaign contributions to certain members of the Memphis City School Board, and that without the payment of these contributions through him, to certain Memphis City School Board members, the ability of the joint venture to successfully obtain the contracts to build three schools with the Memphis City School system would be in jeopardy.

First mail fraud count--On or about November 16, 2004 in the Western District of Tennessee, the defendant 

BRUCE THOMPSON

for the purpose of executing and attempting to execute the scheme to defraud as described above, placed a check in the amount of $7,000 addressed to Kirby Salton from H & M Construction Company into the custody of an interstate common carrier for the purpose of having it delivered as addressed, constituting mail fraud pursuant to 18 United States Code Section 1341.

Incorporating all of the facts as I have set out, regarding the second and third counts of mail fraud, on or about March 31, 2005 the defendant caused to be placed a check in the amount of $233,750 addressed to ROBERT BRUCE THOMPSON a.k.a. BRUCE THOMPSON from H & M Construction Company and the custody of an interstate common carrier for the purpose of having it delivered as addressed.  In addition, on or about October 6, 2005 the defendant caused to be placed a check in the amount of $30,242.56 addressed to ROBERT BRUCE THOMPSON a.k.a. BRUCE THOMPSON from H & M Construction Company and the custody of an interstate common carrier for the purpose of having it delivered as addressed.

The Indictment further alleges that from May 1, 2004 until October 6, 2005 the Defendant, Bruce Thompson, in connection with a contract sought to be entered into and actually entered into between the H & M Construction Company, Salton-Fox Construction Company, LLC Joint Venture, and the Memphis City School system, did obtain by extortion payments from representatives of the H & M  Construction Company, Incorporated and Salton-Fox Construction Company, LLC Joint Venture, which payments were induced by ROBERT BRUCE THOMPSON a.k.a. BRUCE THOMPSON under color of his official right as a Shelby County Commissioner, and which were also induced by the wrongful use of threatened fear of economic harm.  Under these facts as described, it is alleged that the Defendant, Bruce Thompson, did knowingly and intentionally obstruct, delay and affect commerce by means of extortion as defined by Title 18 United States Code Section 1951.

The penalties for a violation of section 1951, the extortion statute, are a maximum prison term of 20 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000 and a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years

The penalties for violation of section 1341 are nmt 20 yrs; nmt $250,000 fine, or both, nmt 3 yrs supervised release, together with a mandatory special assessment of $100.

The case is being directly handled by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Discenza.

These matters of public corruption remain a priority of this office.   We will continue to aggressively prosecute these matters of public corruption and malfeasance.  

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