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Former Catawba County Director Of Utilities & Engineering Sentenced To Prison Time

A former former Catawba County official has been sentenced to federal prison time in a wire fraud case.

66-year-old Barry Bryan Edwards of Hickory was sentenced Wednesday (July 13) to a year and a day in prison and one year of supervised release for accepting kickbacks and bribes from a private contractor. The announcement was made by Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term imposed, the Court previously issued a $30,000 money judgement against Edwards.

In February 2022, Edwards pleaded guilty to wire fraud. According to filed documents and Wednesday’s hearing, from 2012 to 2018, Edwards and an unnamed individual identified in court documents as the Contractor, devised a bribery and kickback scheme involving Catawba County government contracts.

As Edwards admitted in court, as Director of Utilities and Engineering, Edwards had the authority to review and award contracts on behalf of the County government to private businesses, for engineering and consulting activities related to the County’s landfill, and solid waste and natural gas projects, among others.

As court documents show, Edwards admitted to awarding contracts to three businesses associated with the Contractor, all while receiving gifts and other things of value that influenced his decisions, such as expensive meals, tickets to sporting events, and wine-tasting tours, totaling more than $30,000.

Edwards will begin serving his sentence upon designation of a federal facility by the federal Bureau of Prisons. In making the announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the SBI and the FBI for their investigation of the case. Assistant United States Attorney Don Gast of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.