Former City of Plymouth official charged in illegal bribery, kickback scheme
PLYMOUTH, Minn. (KMSP) - A former City of Plymouth official is charged for soliciting and receiving bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding the city contracts.
Ronnie Eugene Taggart, 50, was the facilities supervisor for the city from October 2012 through November 2016. Taggart was responsible for the maintenance of all buildings owned and operated by the City of Plymouth, including the authority to award contracts for City projects such as building maintenance and cleaning, landscaping and snow removal.
According to U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Brooker's office, Taggart devised a scheme to "defraud the City of Plymouth by soliciting and receiving bribes and kickbacks" in exchange for awarding City contracts to various contractors outside of the competitive bidding process mandated by Minnesota state law and City of Plymouth procurement policy.
Taggart solicited and received cash kickbacks based on the total value of certain contracts. On other contracts, he received a flat cash kickback amount from the contractor.
Taggart also solicited and received non-cash bribes from certain City contractors, including items and services for his home, such as thousands of dollars in kitchen appliances, installation of new carpet, a concrete driveway, a garage door, a yard irrigation and sprinkler system and extensive landscaping and electrical work. All of these items and services were provided to Taggart at no cost.
In order to conceal his scheme, Taggart instructed the bribe- and kickback-paying contractors to submit a second, fake quotation to give the false appearance that Taggart complied with the state statute and City policy. He also encouraged contractors to inflate the amount of their bids to cover the cost of the kickbacks and bribes.
In total, Taggart solicited and received bribes and kickbacks worth approximately $58,532.
According to a statement from the City of Plymouth, the city noticed the financial irregularities in the fall of 2016. City officials then reported it to authorities.
"City of Plymouth employees value the trust the public places in us and appreciate our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars," said the statement. "We are grateful to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office which have worked with us to reach this point."