Warnock jury trial continued until June

Warnock jury trial continued until June


The federal criminal trial against former Madison County Engineer Rudy Warnock scheduled for next month has been continued until June 5, according to an order filed on Wednesday. 

Warnock, who has been charged with bribery and wire fraud, was initially scheduled to go to trial on April 3. Earlier this month he switched counsel from a three-man team to Jackson criminal defense attorneys John Colette and Thomas J. Spina of Alabama.

Colette was the attorney for Lamar Adams, the Madison man who pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme involving timber. 

Warnock remains the only person implicated in the 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 from 2016-2017. 

Their sentencing hearings, originally scheduled for May 24, have also been continued to a later date.

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, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

“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 Dec. 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.

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.  

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. 

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. 

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