The former secretary of the state Personnel Cabinet allegedly took more than $200,000 in kickbacks to steer business to a consulting company and make illegal contributions to political candidates.
Timothy M. Longmeyer was charged with bribery in a criminal complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Lexington.
Longmeyer was not arrested. A magistrate judge issued a summons for him to make an initial court appearance April 20.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
Longmeyer headed the Personnel Cabinet during the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear. He resigned in September, but later went to work for Beshear’s son Andy Beshear, who won election as state attorney general in November.
Longmeyer was a deputy under Andy Beshear but quit days before the criminal complaint was filed.
Harvey said at a news conference that the allegations relate only to activities in Longmeyer’s former job. No one in Andy Beshear’s office is a target in the investigation, Harvey stressed.
Beshear said he only learned of the criminal investigation Friday, and pledged full cooperation.
“To say I am disappointed or even devastated by these allegations is an understatement,” Beshear said in a statement. “Our guiding principle in the AG’s office has been ‘do the right thing, every time.’”
Louisville attorney Brian Butler, who represents Longmeyer, said they are evaluating the allegations and will address them at the appropriate time. The two have talked to prosecutors and hope to keep that dialogue open, Butler said.
The alleged kickback scam involved the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan, which is administered by the cabinet Longmeyer headed.
The plan covers 300,000 public employees and dependents, according to an affidavit that FBI special agent James R. Huggins filed with the complaint.
The state contracts with private insurance companies such as Humana and Anthem to provide services to employees.
The affidavit alleged that Longmeyer abused his authority over the health plan in order to get Humana and Anthem to give business to a consulting company in return for bribes from the company.
The company was not named in the complaint.
Harvey declined to identify the company, citing the fact that the investigation continues.
It is “quite possible” there will be additional charges, Harvey said.
A person who worked with the consulting company gave information to the FBI. The agency confirmed the information through a variety of sources, including recordings of others involved in the scheme, phone records and surveillance of Longmeyer, according to Huggins’ affidavit.
Humana hired the consulting company involved in the case for work such as conducting focus groups and surveys of state employees to determine their satisfaction with the health plan, according to the affidavit.
Humana paid the company $2 million between October 2011 and December 2014.
If the public has no trust in government to act honestly … then the whole system collapses.
U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey
The cooperating employee said the company “received these contracts because of its kickback agreement with Longmeyer,” the affidavit charged.
Longmeyer allegedly arranged surreptitious meetings with a representative of the company at places outside Frankfort, including the parking lots of a Kroger in Versailles and a McDonald’s in Midway.
Longmeyer gave specific, written instructions to the company representative on the amount the company should charge the insurers for services and how much it should kick back to him, the cooperating employee told the FBI.
Longmeyer also had the company representative write checks to certain political campaigns last year, according to the affidavit.
Harvey said he could not identify which campaigns got money, but said there is no reason to believe any of them knew they’d received tainted money.
Huggins said in the affidavit that the cooperating employee provided the FBI with a ledger listing payments to Longmeyer.
Based on the ledger, Huggins said he believed Longmeyer received $90,000 in cash between Nov. 21, 2014 and Feb. 27, 2015 and $85,000 in cash between Feb. 27, 2015 and June 19, 2015, as well as $6,000 in checks to two political campaigns before the May 2015 primary.
The cooperating employee said the company recruited people to write campaign donations and then repaid him. The employee said he was required to make “conduit contributions,” but received reimbursement.
The employee secretly recorded a conversation with a company executive who said he was “protecting the business” by “taking 5 grand a week out of my pocket.”
When the executive was asked if Longmeyer would give the company more work, he allegedly responded, “I don’t know, but I think when the well runs dry, you get used to the water, you’re going to come back for it.”
Longmeyer allegedly arranged a final kickback shortly before leaving office by way of a deal for the consulting company to do a phone survey about Anthem’s services under the health plan.
The firm allegedly gave Longmeyer $22,500 of the $48,000 Anthem paid for the work.
A representative of the consulting company took Longmeyer the final $17,500 bribe in a cardboard box, meeting him Oct. 9 in the parking lot of the Midway McDonald’s, according to Huggins’ affidavit.
The FBI was watching the eight-minute meeting, the affidavit said.
The cooperating employee later covertly recorded a conversation with the person who delivered the money, according to the affidavit.
“Yeah, everything’s good; I’m paid off with Tim now,” the person allegedly said.
Howard Marshall, special agent in charge of the FBI in Kentucky, said federal authorities have made rooting out public corruption a top priority, in large part because there has been an historic acceptance of the problem at some level in the state.
Concerned citizens must be key allies in that effort, Marshall said, pointing out the value of the information from the company employee who helped in the investigation of Longmeyer.
“One person stood up and they made a difference,” Marshall said.
Harvey said corruption among elected and appointed officials is so damaging because it causes cynicism among the public and erodes the trust that must be a hallmark of a representative democracy.
“If the public has no trust in government to act honestly … then the whole system collapses,” he said.
Harvey said most public servants are honest. The failings of a few should not tarnish the “exemplary service” of the majority, he said.
James R. Huggins, the FBI agent who signed the complaint against Longmeyer, is the son of Jim Huggins, a former FBI agent who oversaw an investigation named Operation BOPTROT that resulted in corruption charges against more than a dozen lawmakers.
Longmeyer, 48, lives in Louisville. He was a prosecutor in Jefferson County for 14 years before joining Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration in 2008.
After Andy Beshear was elected attorney general, he hired several of his father’s staffers, naming Longmeyer his second-in-command.
Longmeyer has long been an insider in state Democratic Party circles.
From 2003 to 2011, he was chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, working closely with many of the state’s top Democratic campaigns.
As a Beshear appointee, he also helped found The Capitol Club, which raised money for Democrats from state employees in the Frankfort area.
Longmeyer and his wife, Lyn, together have given nearly $48,000 in political donations over the last decade.
During the 2015 statewide elections, Longmeyer gave money to Andy Beshear and other Democratic candidates, including Secretary of State Alison Grimes, then-state Auditor Adam Edelen and gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway.
Former Gov. Beshear said in a statement Friday that he was “shocked and dismayed” by the allegations against Longmeyer.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he had known Longmeyer for a long time and never thought he would take part in illegal conduct.
Harvey said there is no reason to think Humana and Anthem knew about the alleged kickback scheme.
Humana spokesman Tom Noland said the filing of the complaint was the first notice the insurance giant had of the allegations.
The company intends to do an internal investigation to confirm there was no wrongdoing, he said.
The case also has a link to a high-profile corruption case from the early 1990s.
Huggins, the FBI agent who signed the complaint against Longmeyer, is the son of Jim Huggins, a former FBI agent who oversaw an investigation named Operation BOPTROT that resulted in corruption charges against more than a dozen lawmakers.
Staff writer John Cheeves contributed to this report.