City employee accused of taking kickbacks on Columbia park projects

Columbia director of park planning Damon McDuffie was indicted Thursday on charges of accepting kickbacks for work on city projects including refurbishing this bridge at Riverfront Park.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- The director of park planning for the City of Columbia, Damon McDuffie, 34, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking payments from contractors in exchange for obtaining city contracts.

The indictment was released Thursday afternoon by the office of U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles. According to Columbia Assistant City Manager Allison Baker, McDuffie has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case.

The inctment against McDuffie accuses him of accepting kickbacks between October 2006 and January 2010 in exchange for granting work on behalf of the city's parks and recreation division. Count one of the indictment accuses McDuffie of "soliciting and receiving illegal payments from a contractor seeking business with the City of Columbia," but it does not give specific details. The second count accuses him of taking an illegal payment from a contractor seeking a contract for the refurbishment of the footbridge at Riverfront Park.

McDuffie could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the two counts he faces. The prosecution is also seeking the forfeiture of $15,000 from McDuffie.

Read the Federal indictment against Damon McDuffie