Former CMU chair denied plea change

Former CMU chair denied plea change


Former Canton Municipal Utilities Chairman Cleveland Anderson wanted to plead guilty to federal bribery charges but then told a judge he didn’t do anything wrong, according to an order last month by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate. 

“On September 12, 2023, (Anderson) appeared before the Court with the state purpose of changing his prior plea of ‘not guilty’ to a plea of ‘guilty,’” the order states. “The Court questioned Defendant Anderson concerning the essential elements of the offense charged in Count 1 of the indictment, and Defendant Anderson denied that he acted corruptly or had corrupt intent as required by the elements of the charge in Count 1 of the indictment.”

Anderson was indicted on two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery. 

Anderson’s trial is now set for Dec. 4, with co-defendant Rudy Warnock, the former Madison County engineer charged with wire fraud and bribery. 

Warnock, who recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Alabama, was scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 2 but was granted another continuance after his attorney had a conflict with a prior case. 

Warnock has been charged with bribery and wire fraud that allegedly occurred during his brief stint at CMU after he was fired by Madison County.

Indictments against Warnock, Anderson and former Canton aldermen Eric Gilkey and Andrew Grant were unsealed in November 2022. 

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.

Warnock pleaded not guilty at his initial appearance. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Gilkey and Grant have both pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, presumably following the conclusion of Warnock and Anderson’s criminal trial.

According to the indictments, Warnock is alleged to have gifted cash, football tickets and concert tickets to the three in exchange for engineering contracts with the city and CMU. 

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