A high-ranking West Virginia Division of Highways administrator abruptly resigned Friday amid a federal investigation of the agency’s equipment division.
Bob Andrew, a 16-year DOH executive who formerly headed the equipment division in Buckhannon, officially stepped down at 4 p.m. Friday, after turning in his resignation earlier in the day.
Since January, Andrew had been reassigned as special executive assistant to Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox.
Asked if Andrew’s sudden resignation was linked to the federal investigation, DOH spokesman Brent Walker said, “Those are personnel issues. We have cooperated fully, and will continue to cooperate with this investigation.”
Last week, a former DOH supervisor who worked for years under Andrew in Buckhannon pleaded guilty to making a false statement to federal investigators during the investigation. Edward Tuttle, who resigned last April, admitted that he lied about his role in delivering a surplus DOH truck to a buyer at the Port of Baltimore, in Baltimore. The sold truck was to be shipped to Africa.
Tuttle, who faces up to five years in prison, also was the DOH highway administrator for Upshur County.
A second DOH equipment division supervisor, Barry D. Thompson, is scheduled to go on trial next month in Elkins. Thompson is charged with lying to a federal agent about DOH employees “repairing and replacing parts for a dump truck on state time and at state expense,” according to a federal indictment. He resigned in April.
Federal authorities have been investigating the DOH’s equipment division for more than a year over allegations of bid rigging, misuse of taxpayer funds and political activities by DOH employees on state time.
In August 2013, the U.S. Attorneys Office simultaneously served search warrants at the DOH’s equipment office in Buckhannon and at Mo Trim Inc., in Cambridge, Ohio.
The DOH equipment division buys trucks, bulldozers, graders, excavators, mowers, parts and other equipment for state highway garages throughout West Virginia. The office has about 90 employees.
Most recently, Andrew, who made $82,764 a year as Mattox’s special assistant, was heading up a study about converting the state vehicle fleet to natural gas.
In 2006, the West Virginia Ethics Commission and the Legislative Auditor investigated truck and equipment purchases at the DOH equipment office. At the time, Andrew called the investigation “a bunch of malarkey.” The investigation’s findings were never made public.
Andrew could not be reached for comment Friday.
The equipment division case is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Public Corruption Unit, the West Virginia State Police, the FBI and the state Legislature’s Commission on Special Investigations.
Reach Eric Eyre at email@example.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @EricEyre on Twitter.