Local News

Ex-DENR official pleads guilty to extortion

Posted May 27, 2008 12:46 p.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2008 4:45 p.m. EDT

— A former state official pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday in a permitting-for-pay scheme.

Boyce Hudson, 67, who retired from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2005, pleaded guilty to extortion and money laundering. His sentencing was scheduled for July 28, when he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Federal investigators said Hudson agreed to expedite state environmental permits for Agri-Ethanol Products LLC, which planned to build an ethanol production plant in Beaufort County, in exchange for $100,000 and a two-year contract as a consultant that was worth another $100,000.

Agri-Ethanol received the required permits within 30 days, and Hudson, who served as a liaison between DENR and the General Assembly, received $15,000 in the scheme, investigators said.

Authorities were tipped to the scheme by a potential Agri-Ethanol investor, who said a sales representative bragged that the company had bribed a state official. An FBI agent then posed as a company investor to build the case against Hudson.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle was so dumbfounded by the allegation that Agri-Ethanol boasted of bribery that he asked during the court hearing whether the company included that information in its prospectus to investors.

The ethanol plant was never built because of a lack of funding.

The case remains under investigation, and Hudson agreed to cooperate with FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents in their corruption probe.