A consultant with longstanding ties to state Democratic Party politics paid a former top Kentucky official thousands in bribes in order to get business, a federal grand jury charged Wednesday.
The grand jury indicted James F. Sullivan, 64, on one charge of conspiracy and three charges of paying bribes to Tim Longmeyer, who was Personnel Cabinet secretary under former Gov. Steve Beshear.
Longmeyer pleaded guilty in 2016 to taking more than $200,000 in kickbacks during his time with the Personnel Cabinet in return for getting work for a Lexington company called MC Squared.
The indictment makes clear that the federal investigation of corruption involving Longmeyer continues, however.
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Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Boone filed a notice that the case against Sullivan is related to the one against Longmeyer and to one against Larry O’Bryan, a Louisville political consultant who pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme involving MC Squared.
Sullivan, who worked as a consultant for companies seeking state business, allegedly approached Longmeyer about taking a payoff the first time in the summer of 2009.
Sullivan’s companies included Capital Partners LLC and Center Consulting Partners, the indictment said.
The indictment said Sullivan represented a company that had a contract to administer claims under the state workers compensation program. That company was not named in the indictment.
The workers comp program was under Longmeyer’s purview when he worked at the Personnel Cabinet, first as deputy secretary and then as the head of the cabinet from January 2011 through September 2015, the indictment said.
The indictment included details on only a few alleged bribes.
In one instance, Sullivan allegedly sent Longmeyer $5,000 through an unnamed intermediary in December 2009.
In another, Sullivan allegedly paid Longmeyer about $4,000 in June 2015, the indictment said.
The indictment also charged that at various times between 2010 and 2014, Sullivan made “intermittent” cash payments to Longmeyer, but did not list totals.
The purpose of all the payoffs cited in the indictment was to influence Longmeyer to award, extend or renew the contract Sullivan’s client had to administer state workers comp claims, the indictment said.
Sullivan also allegedly sought Longmeyer’s help in getting work for private attorneys after Longmeyer went to work for Beshear’s son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, in early 2016 as a top administrator.
The Attorney General’s Office hires private attorneys to work on cases.
Sullivan gave Longmeyer $1,000 in cash “on or about” March 22, 2016, with the intent to influence Longmeyer in hiring private lawyers, the indictment said.
Longmeyer abruptly submitted his resignation in a letter dated the next day, apparently after learning he was under federal investigation.
Acting U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier IV said in a news release that Longmeyer is not alleged to have committed any criminal acts while he worked for Beshear.
Beshear and others in his office have been aware for some time of the investigation involving Sullivan and are “fully cooperating,” J. Michael Brown, Beshear’s deputy attorney general, said in a statement.
Brad Bowman, communications director for the state Democratic Party, said in a statement that Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s inaugural committee returned a $2,000 donation from Sullivan in July.
That raises the potential that the administration was aware of the looming allegations against Sullivan.
Much of Sullivan’s involvement has been in Democratic Party politics. He held state jobs in Democratic administrations and has given a significant amount of money to Democrats running for office, according to campaign-finance records.
Then-Gov. Beshear, a Democrat, appointed him to the state Board of Claims and the Crime Victims Compensation Board. He was the chair of the Board of Claims.
“Government corruption at any level should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These allegations are no exception,” Bowman said in a statement.
Sullivan was not arrested as a result of the indictment. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier issued a summons directing him to come to court in Lexington Sept. 27 for an initial appearance and arraignment.
The conspiracy charge against Sullivan carries a top sentence of five years. The bribery charges are punishable by up to 10 years.
Sullivan's attorney, Elmer J. George of Lebanon, told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal that Sullivan is innocent.
"I'm very confident we can get a verdict of not guilty," George told the newspaper.
The earlier case against Longmeyer involved his office’s administration of the health-insurance plan for state employees.
He used his influence to get insurers to hire MC Squared for work such as employee surveys.
The owner of the company, Sam McIntosh, kicked back part of the money he received under the contracts to Longmeyer and his friend O’Bryan.
McIntosh received $1.29 million from Humana and passed on $854,701.50 to O’Bryan and Longmeyer between October 2011 and October 2015, according to a court document.
Longmeyer, O’Bryan and McIntosh pleaded guilty.
U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell sentenced Longmeyer to 70 months in prison and ordered him to pay $203,500 in restitution.
O’Bryan was sentenced to 60 months and restitution of $642,201, while McIntosh was sentenced to 65 months and ordered to pay $204,750 in restitution.
An employee of McIntosh, Myron Harrod, received a two-year sentence.