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Last of Muncie city officials, contractors sentenced in ‘bid-rigging’ scheme

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana announced Tuesday that the last of eight people convicted in a “bid-rigging” scheme was sentenced to prison.

Former contractor Tony Franklin was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to one year and one day in prison.

Seven others are either serving or have completed their sentences.

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, former Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler completed his one-year sentence in October. He also must pay $15,250 in reinstitution.

In December 2015, Tyler admitted to accepting $5,000 from Tracy Barton, the head of Muncie’s sanitary and engineering department. The money was gratuity for steering a contract for a public works project to a contractor who charged more than an honest competitor.

The city is required to seek the lowest bid when putting out a request for proposal.

Barton was sentenced to a year of probation.

Rodney Barber, the owner of Barber Contracting, was sentenced to two years on probation for paying kickbacks to Barton and another man, Phil Nichols, in exchange for receiving $300,000 in public works projects.

Nichols was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He died before being sentenced.

Nichols’ son Craig, a former Muncie building commissioner, received two years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering.

Jessie Neal, a former police officer; Debra Grigsby, a former superintendent of the Muncie Sanitary District; and contractor Jeff Burke also received prison sentences for their roles in the bid-rigging scheme.