Fed Investigation Continues Into W.Va Agencies
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Federal investigators have expanded their search for documents to the State of West Virginia’s Aviation Division according to published reports, and a contractor that pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion in regards to work done on state office had his sentencing postponed while he cooperates with federal investigators.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section issued two subpoenas yesterday; one for documents from the state’s Aviation Division and one for Aviation Division Director Keith Wood. Compliance with both subpoenas is being handled by Dwayne Tinsley, serving as special assistant attorney general for the federal grand jury investigation.
In August West Virginia Watchdog learned from a source inside the statehouse that two subpoenas were issued for the Manchin administration. The subpoenas were for documents from the Division of Highways and the Department of Administration. Melvin Smith, spokesman for Gov. Joe Manchin, said at the time that no current or past Manchin administration officials were being targets at that time. Manchin is currently a candidate for U.S. Senate, running against Republican John Raese.
“Neither subpoena was directed to Governor Manchin or the Governor’s Office. No individual in the Governor’s Office was served with a subpoena. The Governor has directed State officials to fully cooperate and comply expeditiously. Governor Manchin wants to get to the bottom of the issue as soon as possible. The State has not been informed that Governor Manchin or any other state employee is under investigation.”
Several media outlets, including West Virginia Watchdog, the Charleston Gazette, and television station WSAZ have filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking copies of the first two subpoenas issued. Tinsley has so far refused to comply with these requests, citing rules that prohibit government attorneys from disclosing grand jury matters.
WSAZ learned from a source inside the Division of Highways that federal investigators were seeking documents concerning the Fairmont Gateway Corridor. They filed FOIA requests for documents concerning former Manchin Chief of Staff and current state Democratic Party Chair Larry Puccio‘s real estate company, the Fairmont Gateway Corridor, and for documents concerning improvements done to Manchin’s offices. All of those subpoenas were denied, not by the agencies, but by Tinsley.
The same day the Aviation Division subpoenas were issued, a contractor involved with the decoration of Manchin’s offices was back in court.
Clark Diehl, owner of Wallpapers in Stock, pleaded guilty in January to both mail fraud and tax evasion. Diehl, who completed work on Manchin and Puccio’s offices, tried to get around the state’s competitive bidding laws by faking bids. In a closed court hearing Monday, federal lawyers U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section asked U.S. District Court Judge John Copenhaver, Jr. to postpone Diehl’s sentencing for six months while Diehl cooperates in an ongoing investigation.
A partial transcript released to the media is posted below:
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Posted under Attorney General, Ethics, Featured, Federal, FOIA, Fraud, Governor, Negligence, News, Transparency, West Virginia.
Tags: Aviation Division, Division of Highways, Joe Manchin, United States, United States Department of Justice, United States Senate, West Virginia, WSAZ-TV
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