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Army Corps Employee Sentenced Over Everglades Restoration Bribery Scheme

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Our feature earlier this month about the never-ending disaster we call Everglades restoration left little doubt that the Army Corps of Engineers deserves a lot of blame.

After all, these are the guys who gutted the Glades in the first place with miles of canals and drainage systems. And these are the guys who have failed to complete even one of the 68 projects at the heart of the Everglades-saving plan passed by Congress a decade ago.

Still, the Corps' failures are rarely as public -- or as seedy -- as the scheme pulled off by Gregory C. Wagner.

The 59-year-old Miami resident was in charge of buying up farmland for the Corps on the edges of the Everglades and converting the fields back into wetlands.

Instead, Wagner took $11,000 worth of bribes from landowners in 2005 to turn a blind eye as they continued farming protected swampland on the borders of Miami-Dade. Wagner had arranged a $200-per-acre scheme for 149 acres and was also promised a cut of the profits after harvest.

Yesterday, a federal judge sentenced Wagner to one year of house arrest and five years of probation, Alicia Valle, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, tells Riptide.

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