Former City of Plymouth Official Charged for Taking Bribes, Kickbacks
United States Attorney Gregory G. Brooker formally charged an ex-official for the City of Plymouth with a felony count of wire fraud on Tuesday.
Brooker announced that the city employee, Ronnie Eugene Taggart, has been accused of soliciting and receiving bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding city contracts.
Taggart, 50, of Golden Valley, served as the Facilities Supervisor for the City of Plymouth, from around October 2012 through November 2016. The role involved handling maintenance of all buildings owned and operated by the city – a responsibility that authorized Taggart to establish contracts for landscaping, cleaning, snow removal, and other related projects.
The felony information filing states Taggart initiated his fraud scheme in 2014. He successfully solicited money and perks in exchange for giving the contracts to certain companies without going through the proper state-mandated competitive bidding process. In total, Taggart received bribes and kickbacks worth about $58,532.
Fox’s local KMSP news organization reported that the City of Plymouth discovered the financial irregularities in 2016.
“City of Plymouth employees value the trust the public places in us and appreciate our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” read a statement from the city. “We are grateful to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office which have worked with us to reach this point.”
Taggart allegedly pursued benefits based on the total value of a particular contract, while sometimes receiving a flat cash kickback or obtaining a non-cash bribe. Non-cash kickbacks Taggart elicited included thousands of dollars in kitchen appliances, free installations of a new carpet, a concrete driveway, a garage door, a yard sprinkler system, and free landscaping and electrical services.
Taggart also allegedly took actions to cover his tracks. A court filing noted he instructed contractors who’d paid him off to submit secondary, false information to make it appear he had complied with proper bidding procedures. Additionally, he suggested the contractors inflate the amount of their bids to disguise the funds that went into his pocket.
This charge comes after an FBI investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph H. Thompson is prosecuting the case, and Taggart is set to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court at a yet-to-be-determined later date.