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Delaware County Contractor To Plead Guilty To Federal Corruption Charge

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Business, Crime, Government, Local News
FBI agents first searched a Muncie city office in January 2017. (File photos: Tony Sandleben)

A Delaware County contractor is the latest person to enter into a federal plea agreement on corruption charges. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, he was arrested as part of an FBI investigation into a former Muncie mayor’s administration.

Rodney Barber (Photo: Uploaded to LinkedIn)

According to a plea agreement filed in federal court this week, Rodney Barber “acknowledges” paying two bribes and doing work for then-Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler for a guarantee of city work contracts. Barber owns a demolition and construction company.

Read the Barber Plea Agreement [PDF].

The agreement says Barber paid local Democratic Party official Phil Nichols a cash bribe of $5,500. Barber also paid Muncie Sanitary District official Tracy Barton $5,000 to illegally contribute to Tyler’s campaign. And in 2015, he removed a tree at Tyler’s home in exchange for favorable consideration for city contracts.

The agreement details that Barber Contracting, Inc. was awarded:

  • 14 city demolition jobs – $263,274
  • 1 sewer repair and maintenance job – $67,377.87
  • 1 tree removal job – $3,800

That’s more than $334,000 worth of work for the city.

Barber will plead guilty to one count of “conspiracy to commit wire fraud.” The agreement says three other counts will be dropped. A judge will decide the length of Barber’s prison sentence.

The agreement says Barber will pay restitution, but doesn’t specify how much or to whom he’ll pay.

Barber is one of several people charged in the years-long corruption probe that will plead guilty. Former building commissioner Craig Nichols pled guilty and is serving a two-year sentence. Former mayor Tyler and former sanitary district administrator Nikki Grigsby have also reached plea deals. Seven people in total have been indicted in the investigation.