Local News

State Contracts Given to Black's Son Draw Inquiry

Posted December 13, 2007 9:47 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2007 11:01 p.m. EST

— The State Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry into state contracts won by a company owned by the son of former House Speaker Jim Black, although the firm did not submit the lowest bids.

Jon Black's company, Black Pest Control, received $124,000 contracts to fight termites at prison construction projects in Bertie and Greene counties in 2004. The company also was offered, but declined, a $73,600 contract for work at a prison in Columbus County in 2005.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby did not order an investigation when the contracts came to light, but he said he has asked the SBI to take a look at them now. State justice officials emphasized the SBI has opened only an inquiry, not a full investigation.

Centex Construction sub-contracted the projects to Black Pest Control. George Zaborowski, a former project manager for Centex, said political pressure was applied to ensure that Jon Black's company was hired.

The state Legislature passed a bill exempting Centex from public-bid laws, which allowed the company to choose a bid other than the lowest one.

Black, 72, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, pleaded guilty to federal public corruption charges in July and began serving a five-year federal prison sentence. A state Superior Court judge ordered him to pay $1 million after he agreed to accept punishment for bribing former state Rep. Michael Decker in 2003. The deal helped Jim Black retain a share of control in the evenly divided House.

The inquiry into Jon Black's state contracts is independent from the charges against his father.