Ganier Plea Ends Contracts Case, But... - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Friends in High Places

Ganier Plea Ends Contracts Case, But...

Al Ganier, leaving U.S. Courthouse (File) Al Ganier, leaving U.S. Courthouse (File)
FBI raids Education Networks of America FBI raids Education Networks of America
Sundquist with Ganier Sundquist with Ganier
Sundquist with John Stamps Sundquist with John Stamps

A longtime friend of former Gov. Don Sundquist was sentenced Friday on federal misdemeanor charges.

That decision effectively ends the five-year investigation into how the Sundquist administration awarded millions of dollars in state contracts.

But there are hints that there could be a new chapter yet to unfold.

Inside the U.S. Courthouse, the long-running investigation into state contracts ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Sundquist friend Al Ganier was sentenced to probation for tampering with computer files.

Those files related to his company, Education Networks of America, and the millions he got in state contracts. It all began with a no-bid contract awarded by his friend's administration.

Ganier was indicted back in 2004 for obstruction of justice -- which could have meant 20 years in prison.

As the case prepared to go to trial, NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams says Ganier had a potential problem because -- according to pre-trial filings -- he had clicked "delete" on computer files that were relevant to the investigation.

But the prosecution also had a problem because Ganier had not completely deleted those files. They remained in the computer's recycle bin.

So the two sides struck a plea deal, reducing the felony charge to a misdemeanor.

After a probe that brought raids on companies owned by the governor's friends, the U.S. Attorney's Office now says in a statement that it has "concluded all previously-existing aspects of its overall investigation into the award of various state contracts ... during the Sundquist administration."

That investigation led to Sundquist appointee Joanna Ediger's conviction and three-year prison sentence for helping to rig a $2 million state contract for another Sundquist friend.

That friend, John Stamps, later pleaded guilty to fraud charges stemming from that contract. Stamps just recently finished a two-year prison sentence.

After NewsChannel 5 first exposed his friend's fraudulent contract, instead of investigating it, Sundquist defended it.

Still, no testimony ever directly implicated the former governor.

"To the best of my knowledge, I have done nothing that has said to the state, 'Do this for John Stamps or do this for Al Ganier, period,'" Sundquist told Williams back in November 2002.

"Then, by follow-up...," Williams started to ask.

"I'm done answering your questions," Sundquist cut him off.

As to whether Sundquist or his former aides face other questions, the U.S. Attorney's Office statement only hints at the answer.

It says the prosecutors "cannot say what future investigations may or may not occur, and cannot confirm or deny any current investigations" that may stem from the contracts case.

Williams reports that his sources tell him that statement means something, that it's still possible there could be other indictments.

Click here to review NewsChannel 5's entire "Friends in High Places" investigation of state contracts
Back to NewsChannel 5 Investigates

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