A Lexington business owner was ordered Thursday to serve 65 months in federal prison for his role in a bribery scandal that tarnished former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration.
Samuel C. McIntosh, 58, paid $854,701 in kickbacks from 2011 to 2015 to get work for his company, MC Squared Consulting, in a scheme with Tim Longmeyer, who was Beshear’s Personnel Cabinet secretary, and Larry O’Bryan, a Democratic political consultant in Louisville.
Longmeyer, whose cabinet administered the state employee health insurance plan, used his influence to get insurance providers Humana and Anthem to hire MC Squared for work such as gauging members’ satisfaction with health plans. McIntosh kicked back part of his payments to Longmeyer and O’Bryan.
All three men have pleaded guilty. McIntosh, who pleaded guilty in January to four counts of bribery and one count of mail fraud, was the last to be sentenced. Longmeyer is serving 70 months in prison, currently in Alabama. O’Bryan is serving 60 months in prison, currently in Florida, and he has paid $642,000 in restitution.
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McIntosh apologized for his crimes in court on Thursday and told U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell that he always will be ashamed of himself. His lawyer, James Lowry IV, said McIntosh was a struggling businessman who was drawn into the kickback scheme by Longmeyer and O’Bryan, both of whom were important players in the Kentucky Democratic Party.
“He was a small man from Eastern Kentucky who wanted to be more important. He wanted to amount to something,” Lowry said.
However, McIntosh was no political neophyte. A Hazard native, he spent the past several decades working on and off for various Kentucky Democrats, including state Sen. Benny Ray Bailey of Hindman, Gov. Martha Layne Collins, and state party chairman Edward M. Coleman. The state Democratic Party has used MC Squared in the past for polling and general consulting work.
In a three-page letter McIntosh submitted to the court this week seeking leniency, he said his business “constantly struggled to make ends meet.” He said O’Bryan first approached him in 2009 with a job offer, to conduct research groups, in exchange for “a consulting fee” for O’Bryan. Over the next few years, O’Bryan kept bringing McIntosh more work while demanding more money from him in return, McIntosh wrote.
“I felt financial and emotional pressure, and I know I could have said no at any time, but I didn’t because I was stupid and I justified it by telling myself that the work did help improve the state’s health plan and it helped me keep my business doors open,” McIntosh wrote. “I became entangled in this mess and felt like a cancer was eating at me, but I did nothing to stop it until it was too late, when the government came knocking on my door.”
McIntosh must report to prison on Aug. 15. He also must pay the state of Kentucky $203,500 in restitution, the sum that MC Squared gave in bribes to Longmeyer in 2014 and 2015, deducted from the total the company collected on its state contracts, Caldwell said.
Before she sentenced him, Caldwell called public bribery “the most serious of crimes” because it destroys citizens’ faith in their government, fueling cynicism, and “this tears at the fabric of our democracy.”
“This whole crime seems to have been motivated by the desire for political status and to score points in the political game,” Caldwell said. “They all wanted to be players. They all wanted money.”
O’Bryan pleaded guilty last year to being the middleman between McIntosh and Longmeyer, although he left the scheme in 2014. McIntosh began paying Longmeyer directly after that, delivering 39 payments between November 2014 and October 2015.
Longmeyer, a longtime leader in the Kentucky and Jefferson County Democratic parties, pleaded guilty to receiving bribes from MC Squared.
Most of that cash went to Longmeyer personally, but some was for contributions Longmeyer arranged for the campaigns of Democrats Andy Beshear, elected attorney general in 2015, and Jack Conway, who lost a bid for governor that year. Longmeyer worked briefly for Andy Beshear as his deputy attorney general — his second-in-command — before quitting when he learned of the bribery investigation.
Federal prosecutors have said Beshear and Conway weren’t aware of the illegal donations.