Warnock asks for continuance
The federal criminal trial against former Madison County Engineer Rudy Warnock scheduled for next month will likely be continued following a motion filed this week.
Warnock, who has been charged with bribery and wire fraud, was initially scheduled to go to trial on April 3. Last week, Warnock sought new counsel in the case, according to a motion filed on March 10.
The motion substitutes attorneys Sean R. Guy, W. Thomas McCraney III and Sherwood Colette with Jackson criminal defense attorney John Colette.
John Colette was the attorney for Lamar Adams, the Madison man who pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme involving timber.
On March 10, Warnock also signed a waiver for a speedy trial, which was filed in federal court on Tuesday, along with the unopposed motion for a continuance in the case.
Warnock remains the only person implicated in this case who hasn’t pleaded guilty after indictments were unsealed in November 2022.
Former Canton Municipal Utilities Chairman Cleveland Anderson and former Canton aldermen Andrew Grant and Eric Gilkey have all pleaded guilty to bribery charges stemming from Warnock’s time at CMU in 2016-2017.
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 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. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Grant, Anderson and Gilkey are facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison and are scheduled to be sentenced in May.
“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 November 2022 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.
Shortly after the check cleared, Warnock was ousted as engineer for Madison County with the seating of three new county supervisors. Some of the new supervisors campaigned on change in the county, including the removal of Warnock after a Madison County Journal investigative series revealed he was paid $1.2 million for an airport feasibility study for the Madison County Economic Development Authority.
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.
Warnock’s tenure at CMU was rife with controversy from the beginning when the ousted chairman of the CMU board, Silbrina Wright, alleged corruption from the get-go.
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.
Warnock later sued CMU for $6.3 million. That lawsuit was later dismissed by a federal judge.