Local News

Ethanol firm officials sentenced on bribery charges

Posted February 10, 2010 10:56 a.m. EST
Updated February 10, 2010 6:30 p.m. EST

— Two owners of an ethanol production company, including a former mayor of Wake Forest, were sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in federal prison for bribery.

Jim Perry, 63, who served as mayor in Wake Forest from 1978 to 1982, and David Brady, 77, a former commercial real estate developer, pleaded guilty last June to bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds. Brady also was fined $60,000, while Perry was fined $10,000.

Neither Perry nor Brady commented after the court hearing, although Brady read a statement in court apologizing for the "most serious mistake of my life." Both men are to report to prison by April 15.

The pair formed Agri-Ethanol Products LLC in 2004 and planned to build an ethanol production plant in Beaufort County. Federal authorities allege that they tried to bribe an official with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to expedite the necessary state environmental permits, which would allow them to attract more investors to the venture.

Boyce Hudson, 69, who retired from DENR in 2005, pleaded guilty two years ago to extortion and money laundering in the case and is serving a 40-month sentence at the federal prison camp in Butner.

Investigators said Hudson agreed to help speed the permits 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 received $5,000 in the scheme, investigators said.

The Agri-Ethanol plant was never built because of a lack of funding.

“The bottom line is that corruption in any form undermines the confidence of the people in their government and their elected officials," U.S. Attorney George Holding said after the court hearing. "That’s anathema to the democracy, and it’s something we can’t tolerate.”

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said Wednesday that, because of Hudson's cooperation with the federal investigation, he would consider cutting his prison term to 30 months to match those of Perry and Brady.