WHEELING, W.Va. – A former highway administrator for the state Division of Highways in Upshur County has plead guilty to a charge of making a false statement to a federal agent. Edward Matthew Tuttle, 38, of Buckhannon, entered that plea on Wednesday.
“This all got started with a single complaint by a citizen who made a phone call to authorities and the investigation has turned us in a lot of directions,” said Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Northern District, on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Tuttle lied to an FBI agent who questioned him earlier this year about the delivery of a large truck he made, on state time, to Baltimore. He was indicted in March.
It’s a single charge that, according to Ihlenfeld, is part of a larger investigation focused on the DOH’s Equipment Division as a whole. In general, Ihlenfeld said that inquiry includes allegations of possible bid rigging, political activities on state time using state resources, improper fund usage and wire fraud.
No other details about the overall investigation were available.
Prior to becoming a DOH highway administrator, Tuttle was a supervisor within the Equipment Division. He now faces up to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 when he’s sentenced later this year.
Another DOH supervisor — Barry Thompson, 48, of Mount Clare — was also indicted earlier this year for allegedly lying to federal investigators. His trial is set for Sept. 30.
Both worked in Buckhannon at the headquarters for the DOH’s Equipment Division where purchases of equipment used across West Virginia are handled. About 90 people work there. Ihlenfield said the investigation, though, goes beyond just that site.
“It’s not just an Upshur County issue. It’s a statewide issue. There are other areas that we’re looking at and other parts of the state of concern,” Ihlenfeld said. “We’re going to continue to look at everything that we have.”
The number for the U.S. Attorney’s Public Corruption Hotline, a collection point for tips, is 1-855-WVA-FEDS. E-mail tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.