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FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007

Construction company founder sentenced in Jeffco sewer scandal

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced the founder of Roland Pugh Construction Co. to serve three years and nine months in prison for his role in the Jefferson County sewer scandal.

Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Propst also ordered Grady Roland Pugh Sr., 68, to pay a $250,000 fine.

With his sentencing Wednesday, Pugh became the latest defendant sent to prison for bribery in a scheme that offered county officials cash, trips, land and other valuable items in exchange for favorable treatment in the awarding of sewer contracts.

Propst earlier imposed a sentence of five months in prison and five months home detention for Pugh's son, Grady Pugh Jr., who cooperated with prosecutors and testified against his father. The judge also ordered that the son pay a fine of $2 million.

Propst fined the father $250,000 after stressing that prosecutors didn't present sufficient evidence to prove a definitive loss or benefit amount attributable to his crime.

"I can't just kind of arbitrarily pick a figure out of the air," Propst said.

The sentence came after a two-day hearing as lawyers argued about money and profits the company received through bribes. Prosecutors contended corruption permeated the county sewer department from 1996 through 2003.

"It is clear that the whole department of the Jefferson County Environmental Services Department was on the take," Prosecutor Bill Dillon said.

A federal jury convicted Pugh Sr. last April of a conspiracy charge related to valuable items given to former Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair. McNair, who has been convicted in a bribery scheme, oversaw the court-ordered sewer rehabilitation and an expansion project from 1996 until he resigned in 2001.

Pugh is to begin his sentence May 30. But the judge allowed him to remain free on a $7.5 million bond. His attorney indicated he will appeal.


Information from: The Birmingham News

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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