Politics & Government

Lexington businessman indicted for allegedly lying about donations to council members

An executive of a real estate company was indicted Thursday on multiple federal charges related to an alleged scheme to use “straw contributors” to make contributions to Lexington council members and then lying to federal investigators.

Timothy Wayne Wellman, who is listed in court documents as part owner and operator of CRM Companies, was charged with witness tampering and multiple counts of making fraudulent statements by a federal grand jury in Lexington.

Kent Wicker, Wellman’s lawyer, said Wellman will fight the felony charges.

“The charges are a complete work of fiction. The indictment is full of legal and factual errors, and we will be explaining those errors to a jury,” Wicker said. “Mr. Wellman has not committed any crimes, and he looks forward to his day in court.”

Wellman has never been an owner of the company, Wicker said.

CRM Companies successfully bid in June 2018 on a proposal to move the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government from its downtown buildings to the Lexington Herald-Leader building on Midland Avenue.

The indictment alleges Wellman gave money to 12 different people, or “straw contributors,” who then donated that money to two sitting council members. Straw contributors are used to circumvent state laws that limit how much any one person can donate to a candidate.

The indictment does not name the council members.

Wellman later told the straw contributors that if they were questioned they should say the money was their own or borrowed and that Wellman did not reimburse them, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges Wellman created false documents, including a fake IRS 1099 form and a fake cash repayment ledger.

Wellman allegedly asked one straw contributor who had already admitted his role in the scheme to federal investigators to sign a false and contradictory statement.

Wellman and CRM Companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

He will be arraigned June 19 in federal court in Lexington, according to court records.

The alleged straw contributors are referred to by their initials in the indictment released Thursday.

Wellman’s name no longer appears on the CRM Companies website.

The council ultimately voted not to move forward with negotiations with CRM Companies in September 2018. City officials have said CRM Companies was selected over three other companies for the proposed city hall project because it had the best proposal. A group of city employees scored the proposal, not council members.

At the time, CRM had a contract to buy the newspaper’s building at 100 Midland Avenue, but that sale was not completed. The newspaper continues to operate from its downtown headquarters.

CRM Companies also has the contract to manage the newly renovated former Fayette County courthouse.

CRM Companies and D.W. Wilburn, a construction company, were awarded a contract in December 2017 to build a new state office building in downtown Frankfort.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said late Thursday she was not involved with the city hall decision. She took office in January.

“This occurred before I took office and I had no involvement in it,” Gorton said.