Delaware County contractor’s sentencing in corruption case reset for September

MUNCIE, Ind. The sentencing listening to for a Delaware County contractor charged in a federal investigation of corruption in Muncie metropolis authorities has been rescheduled for Sept. 6.

Rodney A. Barber, 54, had most lately been set to enter a responsible plea to a depend of fraud and be sentenced on July 27. U.S. District Court docket Choose Jane Magnus-Stinson granted Barber’s request for a continuance.

In line with a plea settlement signed in 2021, Barber will admit to paying Phil Nichols, ex-local Democratic Social gathering chairman, $5,500 in money in alternate for profitable a contract to do work for the Muncie Sanitary District, and giving then-MSD official Tracy Barton $5,000 in money to “illegally contribute” to Mayor Dennis Tyler’s re-election marketing campaign.

The latter fee led to Tyler’s November 2021 conviction on a depend of theft of presidency funds. The previous mayor later spent 5 months in a federal jail in West Virginia.

From 2021: Dennis Tyler’s legacy mentioned as ex-Muncie mayor receives jail time period

In line with court docket paperwork, Barber additionally has admitted to eradicating a tree from exterior Tyler’s northside dwelling “in alternate for favorable consideration” within the awarding of future public works contracts.

Barton was scheduled to enter a responsible plea on June 24 to a depend of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. That cost stemmed from a conspiracy additionally involving Nichols, MSD administrator Nikki Grigsby, then-city police officer Jess Neal and contractor Tony Franklin to solicit bribes in alternate for the awarding of Muncie Sanitary District contracts.

Nevertheless, Barton’s sentencing listening to was not held in June, and on-line court docket data don’t point out it has but been rescheduled.

Grigsby and Neal at the moment are serving sentences in federal jail after getting into responsible pleas.

Franklin additionally entered a responsible plea, in Could, and had been scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8. Final week, nonetheless, Choose James Sweeney II agreed to postpone that listening to till Dec. 7.

The choose sealed a movement, filed by Franklin’s legal professional, that apparently referred to his consumer’s well being.

Nichols described in court docket paperwork because the ringleader of the bribery conspiracy in March signed an settlement to plead responsible, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Nevertheless, his legal professional later filed a movement saying his 75-year-old consumer has been recognized with dementia.

Extra:Phil Nichols’ Muncie political saga has spanned many years

In latest weeks, each Nichols’s lawyer, Brent Westerfield, and federal prosecutors have exchanged recommendations for a way the ex-Democratic Social gathering boss might be examined by psychological well being professionals, apparently in anticipation of a listening to on his competency.

Westerfield has requested that his consumer not be positioned in a hospital for such testing, suggesting a removing from his dwelling “can be detrimental to (Nichols’) psychological situation and will trigger a extra speedy decline in his psychological functioning.”

The federal investigation of corruption in Tyler’s administration and the sanitary district started in 2014 and continued till not less than 2020.

Douglas Walker is a information reporter at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or at [email protected].

This text initially appeared on Muncie Star Press: Contractor’s sentencing in corruption case reset for September