August 29, 2014
Monticello High School Athletic Director Fitzgerald Barnes admitted in Federal Court Friday morning to his role in a bid rigging scheme.
Barnes, David Deane, who is the Vice President of Downtown Athletic, and Charles Phillips, who is the Vice President of Sales for Team Distributor, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of embezzling money belonging to the United States.
At issue are bids on athletic apparel purchased for Monticello High School. Albemarle County policy requires a bid from three different vendors when entering into contracts with private companies for goods and services which cost more than $1000.
Barnes, who also a member of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors, told Deane to submit three bids to Monticello High School, one bid for Downtown Athletic and two from fake retailers. That would ensure Downtown Athletic would be awarded the contract.
On several occasions, Deane asked Phillips to also submit fake bids that were higher than the bid submitted by Downtown Athletic.
The court penalty for this charge is not too steep. Phillips was ordered to pay a $350 fine, Barnes was ordered to pay a $750 fine and Deane will pay a $1,500 fine.
However, the cost could be much greater for Barnes. According a spokesman with Albemarle County schools, Barnes is on administrative leave and his employment status is under review.
Albemarle County Schools issued a statement this afternoon following the guilty pleas that read, in part:
"Based upon the investigation and the admissions today in court by the three defendants, we do not believe there was any financial injury to the school division as the result of the activities that resulted in today’s announcement. As was stated in court today, Mr. Barnes did not realize any personal gain from his actions. Nor do we believe these activities continued after 2009."
Albemarle County says it has made changes to athletic department procurement procedures that introduced more controls to the oversight and conduct of that process.
A statement issued on behalf of Deane says, "Downtown Athletic did not receive any money that it should not have received, and Monticello High School was not charged higher prices than it should have been. This case was not about financial loss, but about sloppy procedures and sloppy implementation."
In the statement, Deane apologizes to the county school administration and vows this won't happen again.