A contractor pleaded guilty Monday to a federal charge for paying more than $530,000 in bribes and kickbacks to a St. Joseph Hospital executive in exchange for contracting work.
In U.S. District Court in Lexington, Rocky Williams, 50, who lives in Arkansas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The restitution amount included in the plea agreement is $532,660.
The guilty plea came on the day that Williams was scheduled to go on trial.
As part of the “quid pro quo” scheme, James Newton, the hospital’s executive director of facilities, assigned contracting work in Lexington to Williams, who then paid bribes to Newton and bought a motorcycle, vacations, fuel, a golf club membership, a pool table, and furniture for Newton and his family. Newton is no longer with the hospital.
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Williams also paid credit card bills for personal purchases made by Newton and his family, according to a July indictment.
“I did pay some credit card bills,” Williams told U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves in court Monday. “I also bought a motorcycle, a couple of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), and one year’s golf membership.”
“In exchange for work assigned and given to you?” Reeves asked.
“Yes,” Williams said.
Later, Williams said he “did the work at a fair price and under budget.”
Newton pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, according to court documents. The July indictment said the conspiracy between the two men occurred from April 2009 to at least October 2012. It was never disclosed which St. Joseph projects were involved.
Williams submitted invoices to the hospital for general contracting work that were passed on to Catholic Health Initiatives in Colorado for payment processing. The unauthorized bribes and kickbacks were not disclosed to St. Joseph or to Catholic Health Initiatives.
Had the case gone to trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj Gupta was prepared to present evidence that Williams gave payments and gifts to Newton between 2002 and 2008 (before the two men moved to Central Kentucky), and that during that time, Newton assigned to Williams general contracting work of Newton’s then-employer, St. Vincent Hospital in Arkansas. St. Vincent, which has hospitals in Little Rock and Hot Springs, Ark., is also affiliated with Catholic Health Initiatives.
The payments “were part of a longstanding and corrupt bribery arrangement where Williams traded money and gifts in exchange for receiving general contracting work from Newton’s employer,” according to a court document filed in September.
Reeves scheduled sentencing for March 23. The maximum punishment Williams could face is 20 years in prison, a fine of no more than $250,000 or twice the loss amount, and a term of supervised release of three years.