Kentucky road construction magnate Leonard Lawson dead at 82

He was often referred to as 'King of the Roads' in Eastern Kentucky

NAPLES, FL (WTVQ) – The man known as ‘King of the Roads’ who dominated Kentucky’s road construction industry has died.

The Courier Journal reports Leonard Lawson passed away last Friday, Feb. 4 at his winter home in Naples, Florida, at the age of 82.

He was a Bell County-native.  His father was a coal miner.

The report notes Lawson rose to prominence in the 1970’s with his road asphalt companies under the umbrella corporation, ‘Mountain Enterprises,’ which dominated state contracts in Eastern Kentucky.

He became wealthy and influential in business and politics, but he also hit some legal speed bumps along the way.

According to court records, he  pleaded guilty in 1983 to a federal antitrust charge that his company colluded with other contractors to rig bids for paving projects.

He was indicted in 2008 on multiple federal charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstructing justice.  Court records show he was accused of bribing the state transportation cabinet secretary and a cabinet engineer in order to get confidential cost estimates for state contracts in an attempt to undercut their bidding.  Lawson and then Transportation Cabinet Secretary, Bill Nighbert, were found not guilty on all counts in 2010.

In 2001, Lawson was inducted into the Kentucky Transportation Hall of Fame.

He was also known for his philanthropy, donating a $300,000 matching grant to build the first state-of-the-art cancer treatment center in Eastern Kentucky.  The Leonard Lawson Cancer Center opened in Pikeville in 1996.  He also supported the Red Bird Mission and the University of Pikeville.

Categories: Local News, News, State News

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