A friend of former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist was indicted Thursday for allegedly impeding a federal corruption inquiry into state contracts by trying to keep pertinent e-mails out of investigators’ hands.
Al Ganier, who founded a company that won a $106 million contract from the Sundquist administration to provide Internet service to Tennessee schools, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted.
Ganier allegedly tried to change policies at Education Networks of America, which he founded, so e-mails would be quickly deleted from company computers.
He was also accused of getting into one of his employee’s computers to destroy, conceal and cover up documents to impede the federal investigation.
Since the beginning of the two-year-old corruption probe into the awarding of state contracts during Sundquist’s administration, investigators have subpoenaed possibly more than 1 million e-mails sent to or by Sundquist and other state officials.
Ganier’s attorney, Aubrey Harwell, said his client is innocent and blamed federal officials for inventing obstruction charges because they had nothing else.
“After this massive investigation, they found no wrongdoing in connection with state contracts,” Harwell said. “So now they’ve gone to Plan B.”
Ganier has been friends with Sundquist since before he became governor, and he was chairman of Sundquist’s 1995 inauguration celebration. Sundquist did not immediately return a phone call to his home.
Chief prosecutor Zach Fardon declined to comment on the Ganier indictment, saying only there is an “ongoing investigation.”