Former Bloomington official charged in scheme

Investigators: Scheme cost taxpayers $800K

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A former Bloomington projects manager has been charged with embezzlement on suspicion that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds meant for public construction, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Federal agents arrested Justin Wykoff, 43, early Wednesday at his home, the U.S. attorney's office said. Wykoff is the former project manager for the city of Bloomington.

Prosecutors said Wykoff approved false invoices for at least $800,000 for concrete work that often was never performed. The owners of a construction company based in Bedford allegedly submitted false invoices that Wykoff paid for more than two years. In return, Wykoff allegedly received cash kickbacks amounting to 1/3 of each fraudulent invoice.

Wykoff has been charged with 24 counts of embezzlement and one count of conspiracy. The two alleged accomplices, Roger and Zachary Hardin, owners of Reliable Concrete Construction, were charged with conspiracy. All three were in federal custody Wednesday. It wasn't clear whether any of the men had attorneys.

"While we expect some level of misbehavior in a small segment of society that has little respect for the law, we certainly don't expect it from our officials and government executives in whom we've placed our trust," FBI Special Agent Bob Jones said.

The criminal complaint against Wykoff said the projects were actually done by Milestone Construction Inc. of Syracuse, Ind., which told investigators that none of the work had been done by the Hardins' Bedford-based company.

Wykoff could face up to 10 years on each count if convicted.

The case is one of three public corruption cases announced this week by federal prosecutors in Indianapolis. The arrests were the work of a joint federal, state and local task force aimed at public corruption that has yielded 30 arrests since April 2012.

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