Former West Virginia Department of Transportation Employee Sentenced to Five Years Probation for Interference with Commerce by Extortion
On September 7, Gwen Conley, former West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT), Division of Highways transportation engineering technician was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Charleston, West Virginia, to 5 years probation and ordered to pay a $6,000 fine as a result of his guilty plea to interference with commerce by extortion, otherwise known as a Hobbs Act violation.
While employed with WVDOT, Conley inspected work on the federally-funded $21 million Route 10 project in Man, Logan County, West Virginia. During the period November 2007 through August 2008, Conley asked for and received money from Environmental Solutions, LLC (ESL), a subcontractor on the project responsible for temporary erosion control and hydro seeding. The owner of ESL delivered thousands of dollars to Conley in exchange for Conley claiming that ESL was performing more erosion control services than they actually were. The money was paid to Conley because of his public position with WVDOT and because of his oversight authority on the Route 10 project. Conley demanded to be paid a percentage of the money he calculated ESL would make by saving materials, time and labor for claiming work they were not actually performing.
This investigation was conducted jointly with the West Virginia State Police and with substantial assistance of the Federal Highway Administration.