Russell testified that Sargent told Aracoma officials that he needed the money to "pay the people in Charleston he was working for."
During a subsequent break in the sentencing hearing, BrickStreet general counsel T.J. Obrokta Jr. stopped a reporter in the corridor outside the courtroom to point out plea-agreement language that contradicted the version of events Sargent had given to Russell, and Russell had testified about.
Obrokta pointed to a "stipulation of facts" attached to the plea agreement, in which prosecutors and Sargent agreed that, "Mr. Sargent repeatedly made comments alluding that 'others in Charleston' were involved in the scheme to defraud BrickStreet, including members of the company's upper-management.
"Mr. Sargent claimed that the bribe payments needed to be paid because he had to share a portion of the proceeds with the 'others in Charleston' to ensure the scheme went undetected," the stipulation of facts states.
The stipulation continued, "Mr. Sargent admits that those representations were false and made only to convince Russell and the others to continue making bribe payments.
"To the best of his knowledge, no current or former BrickStreet employee was involved in, or otherwise knew of, the fraudulent scheme," the stipulation states.
In an interview, Obrokta said that BrickStreet had fully investigated the matter and was convinced no other employees were involved or knew about what Sargent had been doing.
"We found no evidence to suggest that anyone else was involved," Obrokta said.
Obrokta said that BrickStreet has begun a policy of rotating auditors among different employers and having additional employees ride along with auditors to try to prevent any similar schemes from occurring in the future.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.