One would assume that the Democrats in Congress, watching the dismissal of Republican office holders one by one, had learned some lessons from the misbehavior of the Republicans. Alas, we assume too much.
July 1, 2006:
Council leader accused of taking $50,000 bribe to push sale of hospital
John Rickenbacker has been indicted by a federal grand jury and suspended from public office following allegations the longtime leader of Orangeburg County Council was caught in bribery sting.
An indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges Rickenbacker took $50,000 from an FBI officer posing as a consultant for a company wanting to buy The Regional Medical Center.
In exchange for the money, he gave the agent an advance copy of a study of hospital finances, along with a promise to use his influence in getting Orangeburg and Calhoun counties to agree to sell the publicly owned hospital, according to the indictment…
The series of events leading to the indictment began just before County Council’s final decision to hire Chicago-based Ponder & Co. to do an analysis of the hospital’s finances and operations. Council members said the study was not designed to prepare for the sale of the hospital.
As late a June 6, Rickenbacker said the study was not a prelude to sale or lease of the hospital.
A consultant working for an unnamed hospital company met with Rickenbacker on Nov. 3 to discuss the company’s possible purchase of TRMC, according to the indictment. It alleges Rickenbacker solicited cash payments from the consultant for his assistance and eventual support for the company’s purchase or lease of the hospital.
For $5,000 a month, he allegedly agreed to provide the consultant – and no other company bidding for the hospital – a copy of the confidential evaluation of the hospital once it was complete to give it an advantage in the bidding process for the hospital.
On Nov. 7, Orangeburg County Council agreed to hire Ponder & Co. to conduct the study.
The consultant later introduced Rickenbacker to an FBI agent posing as another consultant for the hospital company. Rickenbacker would later meet the agent a total of six times between December 2005 and May 2006. The FBI agent said he gave Rickenbacker a total of $50,000 in cash payments during that time.
The indictment claims Rickenbacker gave the agent a copy of the Ponder and Co. report on May 17. The study was presented to Orangeburg and Calhoun county councils during a closed door meeting on June 15. A copy with portions blacked-out was provided to The Times and Democrat on June 16.
The expected result of that “not-guilty” plea…..May 15, 2008
The former Orangeburg County councilman who served a year in prison for bribery and extortion has been hired to work with U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
Clyburn told The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on Wednesday that John Rickenbacker will work for him as a liaison between his office and constituents.
Rickenbacker was indicted in June 2006 on charges he took $50,000 in bribes from an agent posing as a consultant for a company interested in buying a local hospital. Rickenbacker told the agent he would work to get County Council’s support for the sale and provided a confidential financial report.
Rickenbacker pleaded guilty and served a year in prison. He was released from a Columbia halfway house last month.
Yessir, commit the crime, do the time, get back in line………….
UPDATE: Another question. Is this guy now a federal employee, with a benefits/retirement package funded by you and me? Can a felon be hired as a federal employee? Or is there some kind of consulting arrangement that we should know about?