Highway Contractor Wants to Keep Contracting Despite Bribery Allegations

A highway contractor who paid a former Tennessee Department of Transportation employee $30,000 in exchange for a recommendation to more than quadruple a contract is suing the state for banning him from future projects, reports The Tennessean.
In the lawsuit, Novice “Joey” Cole, the owner and president of Kingston Springs-based guardrail company Lu Inc., argues that TDOT’s decision to suspend him and his companies violates the terms of a 2006 settlement agreement he reached with the state on an unrelated matter.
The suit also charges that the suspension relies on protected testimony he provided to federal investigators about James Douglas Hagar, a TDOT worker who has admitted to soliciting and accepting bribes.
In letters to Cole, TDOT officials say the suspension is necessary to preserve “public confidence in the integrity of the department’s bidding and contracting processes, and in the appropriate expenditure of public funds.”
Cole’s attorneys, however, say the decision should serve as a cautionary tale for those who consider cooperating with government agencies and investigators. “The bottom line is here is a guy who, in the end, did what’s right and told the truth,” said Harold Donnelly, a Nashville attorney representing Cole.

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