Sam's Club, Tyson Employees Charged With Taking Kickbacks

by Gwen Moritz  on Friday, Mar. 9, 2012 3:21 pm  

Hoffman is represented by Fayetteville attorney Terry Harper, and Workman is represented by Tim Buckley, also of Fayetteville. Neither Harper nor Buckley was immediately available for comment early Friday afternoon.

Turney, who left Tyson's employ in August 2010, has a company called Design Engineering, through which the prosecution says he ran kickbacks from companies awarded construction projects at the Tyson complex there.

Turney's defense attorney, Joel Huggins of Springdale, said his client will argue his innocence at trial, currently set for May 14.

"Mr. Turney's position is he has done nothing wrong," Huggins told ArkansasBusiness.com. Design Engineering was and still is a legitimate, viable business, Huggins said.

The indictment describes a scheme by Turney to circumvent Tyson's policy of requiring three bids for every construction project.

In taking bids for the construction of 10 kilogram boxes for "leg quarters" at the Clarksville plant in March 2007, Turney allegedly created phony bids from two companies, Carmody Manufacturing Inc. and Ward Wilhelm Construction, that were slightly higher than the $158,900 bid submitted by B&W. Carmody Manufacturing is a legitimate company incorporated in Clarksville in 1988; no company named Ward Wilhelm Construction is listed with the Arkansas Secretary of State.

The prosecution's description of the bidding is "not quite accurate," Huggins, Turney's defense attorney, said. "You don't believe everything the U.S. Attorney says, do you?"

According to the indictment, B&W was awarded the contract. In April 2007, Turney's Design Engineering company billed B&W Millwrights $25,000 for "engineering fees," and the invoice was paid in June. In the meantime, Tyson Foods had begun paying B&W's bills for work at the plant, and the total grew to more than $236,000 after change orders.

"Design Engineering did not provide services of any kind to B&W," the indictment alleges. "The $25,000.00 represented a kickback paid by Griffith to Turney for ensuring B&W was awarded the construction project at the Tyson Foods Clarksville Complex."

Griffith's attorney, Kimberly R. Weber of Rogers, said her client also denies any wrongdoing.

"He assures me that Mr. Turney worked for this business," she said.

Weber pointed out that Griffith has not been accused of "padding" the charges to Tyson, and she objected to the prosecution's use of the word kickback, which she said should only describe cases of official corruption.

"The only one who lost any money was my client," she said.

While Turney's attorney expects to make his case to a jury, Weber said, "I always hope we can resolve this prior to going to trial."

The case has been assigned to Judge Hendren.

 

 

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