Federal Trial Under Way For Former State Ferry Director
Posted June 14, 2006 10:03 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A former high-ranking state official went on trial Tuesday for an alleged conspiracy and coverup involving a failed ferry project that cost taxpayers nearly $1 million and illegal dredging in Currituck County.
Former State Ferry Division director Jerry Gaskill is on trial for allegedly secretly starting to dredge an inlet without any permits. Witnesses testified on Tuesday that Gaskill told them that the dredging was an accident by a barge.
Currituck County leaders had asked for a ferry to shuttle school children from the town of Corolla on the Outer Banks across the local sound to the mainland, but the boat was considered unsafe and the sound was considered too shallow.
Lacking proper permits, Department of Transportation workers allegedly went ahead and dredged a channel, which is a federal crime. Four workers later resigned and Gaskill was indicted by a federal grand jury. Gaskill was suspended and later resigned.
Gaskill is expected to take the stand later this week. If convicted, he faces several years in prison.
Because of the criminal investigation, the boat and the ferry project are docked indefinitely.