Pigeon Township Trustee, Employee, Contractor Facing Federal Charges for Cash Kickbacks
Township Trustee Mariama Wilson, Community Relations Director William Payne and Terrance Hardiman, owner of Hardiman Construction, are accused of five counts of wire fraud
A federal grand jury has indicted The Pigeon Township Trustee who covers much of the center of Evansville.
This is the person elected to assist citizens in times of need, but according to federal investigators, she and two other conspirators were allegedly taking kickbacks from contractors in the form of envelopes of cash.
Facing federal charges are Pigeon Township Trustee Mariama Wilson, Community Relations Director William Payne and Terrance Hardiman owner of Hardiman Construction.
They were arrested without incident and indicted Tuesday and Wednesday.
Zachary Myers, US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, said between February of 2020 and May of 2022, Wilson and Payne allegedly received about $19,000 dollars each from Hardiman Construction in cash for hiring his services.
“The indictments that have been returned in federal court were allegedly intended to do things like build a food pantry for a homeless shelter,” Myers said.
In total, Hardiman allegedly received about $215,000 in inflated building contractor fees from which Wilson and Payne received the kickbacks.
If convicted, all three face up to 20 years in prison.
Vanderburgh County Prosecuting attorney Diana Moers said while her office has been assisting the federal case, there likely won’t be local charges.
“Right now, it's been a great federal investigation, and it's more efficient to keep the charge federal right now,” Moers said.
“Unfortunately, in public office, we see these kickback schemes far too often,” Myers said. “And the only way to bring it to a stop, the only way to hold public officials accountable when they break that public trust is investigation and prosecution. And that is what we have done here today.”
He thanked the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office and police and sheriffs. He couldn’t offer details on how the investigators were tipped off to the alleged crimes.
“I can say that the investigation was a long running effort of many months, in fact, more than a year, and the facts of the contracts that were inflated, or alleged to have taken place, as early as February of 2020.”
The three accused have pleaded "not-guilty." The next step is setting pretrial motions and trial dates.
He said being a federal case, it will take longer to be resolved.
Despite the charges, Wilson is still currently the Township Trustee.