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Federal Highway Administration Reviewing Prices Paid To Acquire Land For I-69 Project

Last updated on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(UNDATED) -The Federal Highway Administration is reviewing the prices Indiana paid to acquire land for I-69 and other highway projects across the state.

The Indianapolis Star reported Sunday that the portion of the federal investigation conducted at the Indiana Department of Transportation's Indianapolis office concluded last week. But officials are still analyzing what they found.

The Star says similar reviews have stripped local governments of federal funds.

The Star recently reported Indiana offered $7 million for 32 properties that its appraisers valued at less than half that amount.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says the agency follows state and federal laws for acquiring land and is working with the FHA on the review.

Governor Mike Pence has told his top ethics officer to look into land acquisition payments to INDOT chief of staff Troy Woodruff and his family.

INDOT's purchase land owned by Woodruff and his family as part of the expansion of Interstate 69 for more than market value.

According to data provided by INDOT, Woodruff and family members sold land to INDOT for 43 percent more than the average per-acre payout to other Daviess County landowners for the I-69 project.

In 2010, Inspector General David Thomas had investigated Woodruff's sale of land in Daviess County to the state and found Woodruff didn't profit from the deal.

But legal experts say the legal opinions Thomas cited in clearing Woodruff were "flat-out wrong," ''inappropriate" and "odd."

Joel M. Schumm, professor criminal law at Indiana University is quoted saying: "Any lawyer or member of the public that looks at this report would be concerned. If you read the report, it doesn't dispel this idea that something wrong happened here."

Woodruff continues to claim nothing inappropriate took place. He says he didn't think he needed to seek an opinion from the state's Ethics Commission.

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