Officials need to keep up probe

It appears all of Bruce E. Kenney III’s ill-gotten gains are going up in smoke, courtesy of U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr. in Wheeling. In addition, Kenney, 61, will have 21 months behind bars to think about the error of his ways.

Good. Kenney may have committed only a non-violent “white-collar crime,” but it was a violation of trust meriting stiff penalties.

Kenney, now of Norfolk, Va., at one time lived in West Virginia. He was an official in the state Division of Highways Traffic Engineering unit. That gave him the ability to go around normal procedures for awarding some state contracts.

He used it to steer inspection work to the Dennis Corp. of Columbia, S.C. Kenney received about $200,000 in under-the-table payments — bribes, to put it bluntly — for his efforts. Three other men also have been charged in connection with the scheme.

State and federal investigators got Kenney dead to rights, so he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges.

In addition to the 21 months in prison, Stamp ordered Kenney to pay $34,714 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, representing taxes he dodged. He also must pay a “forfeiture judgment” of $162,536.

Sentences such as those handed down by Stamp ought to deter other public employees and officials from using their positions for corrupt purposes. But unfortunately, ours is a state with a long, sordid history of such abuses of the public’s trust.

So, let us hope the state and federal law enforcement agencies that nailed Kenney and his cronies remain hard at work rooting out and punishing corruption. There are plenty more to arrest in the slimy swamp from which Kenney came.