ABINGDON, VA (WJHL) – Former Bristol Virginia Utilities board chair and former Bristol, Virginia mayor Paul Hurley, 74, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in federal court.
Paul Hurley pleaded guilty to mail fraud and perjury before a federal Grand Jury Monday morning. He faces up to 25 years in prison and has been ordered to pay up to a $500,000 fine.
According to investigators, Hurley sold at least 50 race tickets to Bristol Motor Speedway scalpers and friends.
When grand jurors asked Hurley about those tickets, he allegedly lied about them.
News Channel 11 questioned Hurley about those tickets earlier this year. Hurley told us the tickets were for economic development; an opportunity to try and lure investors to do business in Bristol, VA – using the hottest ticket in town. He also, suggested to News Channel 11 that those tickets were likely used for customer appreciation as well.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what position you’ve had, or what your history’s been, if you’re engaged in wrong doing and fraud, which this obviously is a case of wrongdoing and fraud, then you will get caught and you will be punished,” said Tony Giorno, United States Attorney. “As a result of that conviction.. Hurley has forfeited a lot of his goodwill, he’s forfeited his integrity, he’s forfeited his standing in the community, it’s a steep price to pay for a relatively small gain.”
In a news release issued by the Department of Justice, Giorno added that Hurley “abused his position of trust with the Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority for his own personal benefit and then lied to the grand jury to cover up his crimes.”
“This is a sad and tragic case where an individual with a history of public service has, by his actions, forfeited his job, his reputation, his standing in the community and potentially his freedom for a few thousand dollars. I commend the efforts of the investigating agencies that led to these convictions, which should serve as a warning to others that criminal conduct by white collar professionals will not be tolerated,” Giorno said.
Adam S. Lee, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Richmond office added that “the oath pledged for committing oneself to public service and that of one sworn before a federal grand jury is no different; both expect behavior beyond reproach, integrity when faced with dilemmas and consequences when either is breached. Mr. Hurley will soon face consequences, not yet determined by the courts, for his repeated behavior of using property owned by BVU for his personal gain and then lying about it, while under oath, to a federal grand jury. Public corruption remains the Bureau’s top criminal priority, and we encourage citizens to report unethical and illegal activity to law enforcement as soon as they become aware.”
- CLICK HERE TO READ: Department of Justice news release on Hurley guilty plea
Hurley will be sentenced in January. He’s been ordered to pay at least $5,000 in restitution to BVU and has already paid a $10,000 forfeiture.
News Channel 11 asked Hurley outside the federal courthouse if he had anything to say about his guilty plea. He declined to comment.
“I’m not sure how pervasive it is, we certainly have found people engaging in misconduct, but I think by and large, the folks at BVU have tried to run a good ship, they have been cooperative with us, and hopefully this will be the end of it.. we’ll find the wrong doers there and we’ll have a clean slate.”
Hurley is also a former school administrator and teacher.
“It’s another black eye,” BVU Board Member Doug Fleenor said of the news. “We’re talking about a former educator who was supposed to teach our children. We’re talking about someone who was mayor of Bristol, Virginia for a long time. Am I shocked? No. Did I suspect it? Yeah. This is a man that in a BVU meeting sat beside me and looked at another board member when I was asking questions a couple years ago and said. ‘I told you we shouldn’t have put him on this board.'”
Fleenor says he would like to see the investigation wrap up soon. He assured ratepayers that BVU “is moving in the right direction” with its leadership.
News Channel 11’s Nate Morabito is tracking every detail regarding today’s developments in the ongoing BVU corruption investigation. Make sure to follow Nate Twitter for the very latest: https://twitter.com/wjhl_nate.
Also, find all our previous topics on the BVU corruption case at: http://wjhl.com/?s=bvu
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