A Washington area construction firm official was indicted here yesterday on charges of lying to a U.S. grand jury that is investigating bribery and corruption allegations against former D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert H. Campbell.
The indictment of Robert P. Jenkins, 47, of 1141 Bob-O-Link Circle, Great Falls, Va., is the first to result from an 18-month investigation of allegations that Campbell fixed large numbers of tickets for overweight trucks for Excavation Construction, Inc. Jenkins is secretary of the multimillion-dollar Prince George's County construction firm, which recently filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy law.
Campbell retired from the bench on disability last February. Yesterday's indictment of Jenkins said the grand jury was investigating whether Excavation Construction had ever "given or offered to give anything of value" to the judge when he was on the bench, and whether the firm had received "favorable or preferential judicial treatment" in return.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore A. Shmanda of the major crimes division said the investigation is continuing.
The Washington investigation is one of two federal grand jury investigations focusing on the construction firm, which has been under scrutiny by law enforcement agencies for a variety of reasons for the past two years.
Excavation Construction is part of a network of approximately 30 area construction firms controlled by Parking Management Inc. general manager John W. Lyon and Excavation Construction general manager Larry A. Campbell.
In spite of the long-running investigations of Excavation Constructtion, Jenkins -- also described as an assistant general manager of the firm -- is the first corporate official to be indicted.
The closest the investigations came to the company before yesterday's indictment was last May, when two operators of the R&W Construction Co. were convicted of illegally posing as owners of a small minority business to obtain a federal contract.
Although the two operators were black, prosecutors in that separate investigation, headquartered in Baltimore, successfully proved that the business actually was secretly controlled by the owners of Excavation Construction, who were white.
Jenkins was charged in yesterday's indictments with three counts of lying to the grand jury when questioned about his firm's dealings with Campbell.
According to the first count, Jenkins conceded to the grand jury that he recommended to Campbell that he get some topsoil put in his backyard because "he couldn't grow grass" there.
However, the grand jury said Jenkins lied when he told the panel he never knew if the topsoil was provided or not.Investigators reportedly have determined that the firm delivered at least $150 of topsoil to the judge's home on Sudbury Pl. NW.
The grand jury said Jenkins lied a second time when he told the panel that he did not know that Judge Campbell had signed orders releasing some Excavation Construction trucks that had been impounded because of outstanding tickets. The second charge also said Jenkins lied again when he denied knowing whether anyone from his firm contacted the judge to seek his help in getting the trucks released.
The last charge accuses Jenkins of lying when he told the grand jury he was unaware of any other times of value his firm had provided to Campbell.
Investigators said, however, that they feel they can prove Jenkins was aware that the firm had helped Campbell move his furnishings from one house to his current house.
The Washington Post reported in August 1978 that the firm moved the judge on company time in a truck rented by the huge construction firm. Several moving companies said at the time that the move might have cost $300 to $500 if it had been handled by a standard commercial moving firm.
Sources familiar with the investigation said it has turned up several other instances of what they termed small-scale favors performed by the firm for the judge in exchange for lenient treatment in his courtroom. However, sources said the prosecutors are reluctant to move against a former judge without examples of larger payoffs.
Law enforcement authorities have estimated that as many as 1,400 tickets -- each carrying fines of $100 to $300 -- may have been issued to Excavation Construction between October 1975 and May 1977 for driving overweight trucks on District of Columbia roads.
Although the company repeatedly acknowledged the violations, court records indicate that Campbell consistently suspended imposition of fines.
The city's judicial tenure commission also had been investigating Campbell's conduct, but that investigation was halted last December after Campbell announced he intended to resign from the bench.
The Baltimore investigation originally focused more generally on labor-management racketeering and resulted in the conviction of a D.C. Teamster official for misdemeanor violations of federal labor law. It since has expanded and focused more directly on Excavation Construction itself.
In May 1978, Robert Miller Jr., the president of Interstate Bridge, another construction firm controlled by Lyon and Campbell, was found shot to death in a Rockville motel. His still-unsolved murder became another object of the Baltimore investigation.