Anderson changes to guilty plea in bribery
Former Canton Municipal Utilities Chairman Cleveland Anderson will plead guilty in an ongoing bribery scheme involving two former Canton aldermen and former Madison County Engineer Rudy Warnock, according to court records.
Anderson initially pleaded not guilty along with Warnock, while former aldermen Andrew Grant and Eric Gilkey pleaded guilty last year.
The federal criminal trial against Warnock is scheduled for April 3.
Warnock is facing up to 30 years in federal prison if found guilty on bribery and wire fraud charges related to work billed to Canton Municipal Utilities from 2016 to 2017.
Warnock was indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2021, but the indictments were sealed until November 2022. Warnock pleaded not guilty at his initial appearance.
Grant and Gilkey were originally scheduled to be sentenced today, Feb. 23, but that has been reset for May 24.
Warnock was indicted on two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. According to the Justice Department, Warnock faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charges and five years for each conspiracy charge if found guilty.
“According to court documents, Warnock is charged with having directed payments and rewards to Anderson, Gilkey and Grant in exchange for preferential treatment that resulted in lucrative city engineering contracts for Warnock,” a press release from the Justice Department said. “The ‘gratuities’ supplied by Warnock included thousands of dollars in cash, concert tickets, and football tickets in New Orleans.”
According to the indictment, around December 23, 2016, a check in the amount of $9,200 made payable to a J.M. was deposited and cleared an automated clearinghouse of the Federal Reserve Bank and both Gilkey and Grant were paid $4,000 each.
Warnock was ousted as engineer for Madison County with the seating of three new county supervisors in January 2016.
Eight months after Warnock’s removal from the county, he was hired to become the exclusive engineer for CMU and within four months had billed the utility $1.15 million for work.
Two months after Warnock’s hire, the CMU board ousted the general manager and increased the overall operating budget by $540,000 to nearly $13 million. At that point, Warnock then declared a sewer emergency and the board was discussing the possibility of floating a bond and borrowing upwards of $30 million to $40 million to address sewer needs in the city.
Warnock was later fired in 2016 and it was at that point Warnock alleged in a lawsuit that Anderson had offered to kill Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler and Madison County Journal Associate Publisher Michael Simmons for $10,000 using a New Orleans hitman. No criminal charges were ever filed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story erroneaously stated that Warnock was fired from the county shortly after the check was cashed in December 2016. Warnock was replaced in January 2016.