Two indicted in septic tank bribery scheme

A former Denham Springs septic tank contractor and a former state septic system inspector were indicted in Baton Rouge federal court Wednesday on charges related to an alleged series of bribes totaling about $50,000.

Glenn Kelly Johnson, 71, is the former Denham Springs contractor, now residing in Brookhaven, Miss., said U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. Federal court records in New Orleans show Johnson has served prison time for a past case involving installation of at least 125 faulty septic tank systems in the Thibodaux and Houma areas.

Alan Forrest Pogue, 52, of Covington, is the former septic system inspector for the Onsite Wastewater Program of the state’s Center for Environmental Services.

A call Wednesday to a phone number for Pogue in Covington was answered by a recording that said the number “has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Johnson could not be located for comment in Brookhaven.

According to the indictment obtained Wednesday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rene I. Salomon, Pogue accepted approximately $50,000 in bribes from Johnson from May 2009 through June 2011.

The indictment alleges that Pogue accessed computer databases of the Onsite Wastewater Program to make handwritten lists of applicants for permits to install septic tanks. Johnson is alleged to have paid cash for those lists.

Johnson then solicited business from the applicants named on those lists, according to the indictment.

Both Johnson and Pogue are charged with conspiracy to use telephones in aid of a bribery scheme. Johnson also is charged with four counts of unlawful use of telephones and one count of making a false statement to an FBI agent.

The charges against Johnson carry possible penalties totaling 30 years in prison, Cazayoux said. If convicted on the conspiracy charge, Pogue could be sentenced to as many as five years in prison.

Noting that the case also was investigated by the Louisiana Office of Inspector General, Cazayoux said in a written statement: “We cannot, and will not, tolerate situations … where a businessman seeks to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace by bribing low-level public employees.”

Cazayoux said he could not comment as to whether any homeowners had complained about any problems with septic tank systems installed by Johnson’s firm from May 2009 through June 2011.

Court records in New Orleans show U.S. District Judge Morey L. Sear sentenced Johnson in August 2000 to 51 months in federal prison for his guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Sear also ordered Johnson to pay restitution of $1.1 million to Hancock Bank of Louisiana and fined him $75,000.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons assigned Johnson to the Federal Prison Camp at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Johnson’s prison time in that case ran simultaneously with a three-year prison sentence Sear imposed in a separate case the same year. Johnson pleaded guilty in that case to one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act and one count of obstruction of a criminal investigation.

Sear also ordered Johnson to pay $250,000 in restitution to homeowners who endured problems with their septic tank systems. And the judge fined Johnson $500,000.

All of the affected homeowners received their restitution, according to a court filing by prosecutor Stacey H. Mitchell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section in Washington, D.C.

Mitchell said homeowners’ problems ranged from “interruption in sewage service to back-ups causing sewage to enter their homes through
toilets, sinks and dishwashers.”