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Former Catawba County utilities director sentenced for bribery conviction

Barry Edwards, 66, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after being found guilty of accepting bribes from 2012 to 2018.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal judge sentenced a former Catawba County director to serve time in prison over a year after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

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Barry Bryan Edwards, 66, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

According to court records, Edwards conspired with a contractor to create a bribery and kickback scheme involving Catawba County contracts from 2012 to 2018 while he served as director of utilities and engineering for the county.

Edwards possessed the authority to review and award contracts on behalf of the county to private businesses. He admitted in court to awarding contracts to businesses associated with the contractor in exchange for gifts that influenced his decisions.

Some of the gifts given to Edwards included expensive meals, tickets to sporting events, and wine-tasting tours, among other things. Overall, the gifts named in court documents totaled around $30,000.

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Edwards was indicted for "conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States" in February. He pleaded guilty following his indictment. The plea agreement between prosecutors and Edwards is not open to the public.

Edwards served as Catawba County director for utilities and engineering from 1995 to 2018. The companies involved were not specifically named but involved a contractor that worked at businesses located in North Carolina, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

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