Bribery charges against a Prince William County building inspector were dropped yesterday after prosecutors said they lacked sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.
Assistant prosecutor William Hamblin said the charges against the inspector, Larry Liming, could be revived later, but said "we're simply not in a position to go foward with it" now.Liming was arrested Dec. 14 after he allegedly accepted a bribe from an unidentified builder in return for ignoring improper construction work.
Yesterday's action represented yet another setback for prosecutors involved in a year long investigation of Prince William's burgeoning building industry that has resulted in bribery charges against five area builders and Liming. A second building inspector, who resigned after he also was implicated, is reportedly cooperating with authorities. A General District Court judge dismissed the first bribery case at a Feb. 5 preliminary hearing after inspector Eugene Bradley, a key prosecution witness, was unable to identify Manassas plumber Luther Anderson as the man who allegedly offered him a payoff.
Liming, who was suspended for 30 days after his arrest and who has since worked as a carpenter and renovator in the county's general services division, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
His attorney, James Turner, said he was convinced that the decision to forgo prosecution "was based on the fact that the prosectution felt that Mr. Liming was not guilty. I am totally unaware of any hard evidence that they had."
Turner said he wanted "to emphasize that the decision did not result from any bargaining. My client voluntarily submitted himself to several interrogations in an effort to prove this innocence."
Charles J. Vincnet, director of the county's building inspections department of the alleged payoffs to his inspectors and what he called ineffective prosecution of builders, said there will be no immediate decision on whether to reinstate Liming as an inspector.
"That hasn't been disposed of yet," Vincent said. Neither has it influenced Vincent's decision to resign. "That's irreversible," he said.