Two FBI agents harassed an Alabama deputy attorney general before he committed suicide last November--all because the agents mistakenly thought the deputy AG was trying to help gambling magnate Milton McGregor.
Robert William "Bob" Caviness died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on November 15, as FBI agents Keith Baker and John H. McEachren III were conducting a harassment campaign against him, according to a report in The Montgomery Independent. Baker and McEachren were involved in an investigation of McGregor, which led to the ongoing prosecution of 11 individuals connected to gambling-related measures in the Alabama Legislature.
We have reported on the Caviness story as one of several mysterious Alabama deaths that seem connected roughly to the last year of Gov. Bob Riley's administration. The most recent such death came just last week, when Birmingham businessman Charles "Bubba" Major reportedly committed suicide in Mountain Brook. Major was a first cousin to prominent attorney Major Bashinsky, whose death in March 2010 was ruled a suicide. Bubba Major had expressed doubts about the official circumstances surrounding his cousin's death, which came just days after the settlement in a lawsuit the Bashinsky family brought against an investment firm with ties to the Riley family and the gambling industry.
How did Bob Caviness incur the wrath of the FBI? Bob Martin, editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent, reports:
The Deputy AG, Robert William “Bob” Caviness, was in the process of conducting a background check on an individual with the last name of McEachern, who lived in the Auburn-Opelika area. It was a matter involving worker’s comp fraud.What was the fallout?
The Independent was told by the AG’s office that Agents Baker and McEachern became suspicious when they found out through the state’s computer data base that someone in the Attorney General’s office was conducting the search involving McEachern’s name.
“They went ballistic” according to a source at the AG’s office, “and began harassing Bob and accusing him of trying to help Mr. McGregor,” AG officials told us.
An internal investigation was conducted by the AG’s office, which, at that time was under the direction of Atty. Gen. Troy King.
The investigation completely cleared Caviness of doing anything improper.
“He was just doing his job but those idiots at the FBI wouldn’t let him alone. They (the FBI) were bound and determined to tie Bob in with trying to help McGregor,” one AG official told our reporters. Baker and McEachern were the agents who arrested McGregor at his home.
Martin reports that the AG's office confirmed that Caviness' death was a suicide. But a number of questions remain, in our mind. Did the AG's office, now under Luther Strange, provide any documents to support the suicide finding? Did the AG's office conduct an investigation of its own into Caviness' death?
What about Caviness' possible ties to Ralph Stacy, the Business Council of Alabama executive who reportedly committed suicide in his office last September. Multiple sources have told Legal Schnauzer that Stacy and Caviness were friends, that they shared a common faith and were lay ministers.
The question of the moment, however, is this: What do the actions of FBI agents Baker and McEachern tell us about the federal gambling prosecution? Based on their harassment of Bob Caviness, does it sound like they were disinterested truth seekers in the gambling probe? Or does it sound like they were out to get Milton McGregor?
From where we sit, it sure sounds like the latter. That should cast more doubt on a federal prosecution that already seems to be filled with holes.