- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - A former West Virginia Division of Highways employee has pleaded guilty to wire and tax fraud, admitting he used his position to funnel work to a South Carolina business and received secret payments of almost $200,000.

Bruce Kenney III, of Norfolk, Virginia, was indicted in what prosecutors called a conspiracy from 2008 to 2014 to bypass normal state procedures and steer $1.5 million of inspection work to Dennis Corp. of Columbia.

The 60-year-old Kenney, who pleaded guilty in federal court to two charges, worked in the Traffic Engineering Division. A plea agreement calls for him to forfeit $197,250. He could face up to 25 years in prison. Prosecutors are recommending less.

On Tuesday, 52-year-old Mark Rudolph Whitt, of Winfield, West Virginia, pleaded guilty to one conspiracy charge. He admitted using his company, Bayliss and Ramey Inc., to use its signal maintenance contract to funnel the work.

Also, 40-year-old James Travis Miller, of Hurricane, West Virginia, who worked for the state and later Dennis, admitted delivering payments to Kenney and pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

A former Dennis manager also was charged.

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