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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Do UAB fans have Birmingham attorney Doug Jones to "thank" for the demolition of Blazer football program?

Doug Jones
UAB supporters might have Birmingham lawyer Doug Jones to "thank" for the demise last week of the Blazer football program. Multiple news outlets, both traditional and Web-based, are reporting that University of Alabama board president Paul Bryant Jr. likely is responsible for the decision to kill Blazer football.

Our research indicates Bryant probably never would have become a UA trustee if Jones had not taken steps to protect him from a likely federal indictment in the late 1990s.

Jones, a University of Alabama graduate who reportedly has done legal work for Bryant, now is a principal in the downtown Birmingham law firm Jones Hawley. Before that, Jones was with Haskell Slaughter, but that firm dissolved earlier this year. In the late 1990s, Jones served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama during the Clinton administration.

For Paul Bryant Jr., it apparently proved to be a good time to have a buddy in a high place.

Prosecutors and forensic accountants from Alabama went to Pennsylvania and helped obtain guilty verdicts on 135 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering against a Philadelphia lawyer/entrepreneur named Allen W. Stewart, who wound up with a 15-year federal prison sentence.

Why were Alabamians on the prosecution team? Because the fraud had roots with one of Bryant's companies, Alabama Reassurance. And our sources say that prosecutors were promised that, if they obtained convictions in Philadelphia, they could come back to Alabama and zero in on Bryant's firm. Here is how we reported it in an earlier post:

Bryant and his company, Alabama Reassurance, came through the episode virtually unscathed. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that a full-bore investigation of Alabama Re was to commence once the Stewart conviction was secured. In fact, Caryl Privett--then U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and now a Jefferson County Circuit judge--reportedly had promised investigators that they could go after Alabama Re once the Stewart trial was over.

By then, however, Privett was out of office, and someone in the U.S. Department of Justice called off the Alabama Re investigation. One can only wonder if Bryant's company has forsaken the fraudulent business practices that were revealed in the Stewart trial. One can also wonder who cut Bryant and his company a break--and why.

Jones told us in a telephone interview that he recused himself from the Stewart case because of an attorney-client conflict. That former client apparently was Bryant.

By the time, the Stewart case had ended with across-the-board convictions, Jones had replaced Privett as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama--and suddenly, the promise to go after Bryant's company was rescinded, and the investigation called off. Our sources say Doug Jones, as head of the Northern District, almost had to be the one to call the dogs off Alabama Re.

If Jones recused himself from the Stewart case, wasn't he also required to stay out of the Alabama Re investigation?

I've asked Jones directly, in two separate phone interviews, if he called off the Alabama Re investigation. He refused to answer the questions both times, responding mainly with insults and what might be called "elitist Southern condescension."

Here is an excerpt from the first time I tried to get the truth out of Jones:

Jones: I'm trying to make sure you understand that I have read your stuff, I have seen your conspiracy theories, and I am not going to answer any of your questions because I don't trust what you will write, period.

LS: I'm taking it down word for word. . . . I'm asking you, who called off the investigation of Paul Bryant?

Jones: I am not going to respond to any of your questions . .

LS: You were a public official then, Doug . . .

Jones: I am not going to respond to any of your questions. . . . I've seen the garbage you write and the way you spin and the way you slant. It's the most disingenuous stuff I've ever seen. . . . It just doesn't matter to me. You're a nothing to me."

You can hear the full conversation at the first video below. The second video includes a similar exchange, with me asking Jones directly about cancellation of the Bryant investigation--and Jones ducking and dodging and responding with insults.

I will allow UAB supporters to make up their own minds about Doug Jones' role in keeping federal investigators away from his buddy, Paul Bryant Jr. Since Jones won't answer questions from me, maybe he will answer questions from Blazer fans. His contact info at Jones Hawley is (205) 490-2290 and djones@joneshawley.com.

Would Bryant ever have been able to become a university trustee if he had been indicted on federal fraud, racketeering, and money laundering charges? It seems doubtful. And given that one jury already had reached guilty verdicts on related charges, it seems likely that Bryant would have had a hard time avoiding a prison term. He probably would have had pressing concerns to keep him from targeting UAB football.

In the videos below, Doug Jones vocabulary seems to include little more than insults directed at me, which is odd, given that I've repeatedly stood up for one of his former clients, Don Siegelman. But my impression is that Jones pretty much loses his cool because he can't handle being asked tough questions about a sensitive subject, Paul Bryant Jr.:


e.a.f. said...

oh, this is ever so entertaining. I still think this is worthy of a movie script. Perhaps George Clooney could be cast as you.

Loved the phone numbers! Nice touch,.

Anonymous said...

So this is how "Cubbie" escaped the Bear trap feds had set for him. Interesting background, LS.

Anonymous said...

Seems Jones uses the recusal rules rather loosely. Why recuse in one case and not in the other, which both involved Bryant?

legalschnauzer said...

Good question, @1:59. Maybe you should call and ask him. He won't answer my questions, as you can see.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't a U.S. attorney have a responsibility to pursue apparent crimes, rather than covering them up?

Anonymous said...

Has Doug Jones ever gotten anyone acquitted. Seems all of his white-collar crime clients--Don Siegelman, Ronnie Gilley, Chris McNair--wind up guilty.

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting point, @6:50. Jones' record doesn't seem to be too good. If I needed a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, he's the last guy I would want representing me.