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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Second member of AG's staff is forced out amid charges of conspiring to obstruct Mike Hubbard probe


Luther Strange
A second high-profile employee has been forced out of the Alabama Attorney Genera's Office amid allegations of trying to derail a grand-jury investigation of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Investigator Howard "Gene" Sisson has been terminated for allegedly conspiring with former Deputy AG Sonny Reagan to obstruct the Hubbard investigation, according to a report from Bill Britt at Alabama Political Reporter. Reagan was forced to step down last December for allegedly leaking grand-jury information.

Both Reagan and Sisson played major roles in the raids that closed non-Indian gaming facilities around the state, including VictoryLand in Macon County and Center Stage Alabama near Dothan. The Reagan and Sisson exits raise a number of troubling questions about both the gambling raids and the Hubbard investigation.

From Bill Britt's report about the latest member of AG Luther Strange's staff to be shown the door:

Howard “Gene” Sisson, an investigator with the Attorney General’s Office since 2007, has been removed from his position after it was believed he conspired with Reagan to produce false allegations against Special Prosecutions Division Chief Miles Mathew Hart. The Special Prosecutions Division is leading the felony prosecution of Speaker Mike Hubbard, (R-Auburn), who has been charged by the State with 23 felony counts of public corruption.

Sisson, who has worked closely with Reagan on gambling raids and prosecutions, was reportedly involved in a complex scheme to discredit Hart in an effort to allow Hubbard to escape justice, according to those with background knowledge.

If Sisson was involved in a "complex scheme," which also could be known as a "conspiracy," that indicates a number of other individuals were involved. Our first obvious question: Who are those individuals, and will law enforcement pursue them?

Britt hints at those who might have been involved with Reagan and Sisson:

. . . court documents show, that Reagan shared attorney’s with Rep. Barry Moore, who was accused of lying to the Hubbard Grand Jury and also shared an an attorney with Hubbard. Reagan shared attorney Bill Baxley who represented Moore, and Rob Riley who represented Hubbard all simultaneously. Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, also represented his father and sister, Minda Riley Campbell, before the Grand Jury investigation of Hubbard.

This matrix of overlapping attorneys seems to have allowed a free flow of secret information between Hubbard and individuals who have been named as material witnesses in the Hubbard indictments.

In what increasingly appears to be a desperate attempt to avoid a criminal trial, Hubbard has offered memos by Reagan, to show prosecutorial misconduct. Even though it has been revealed in court documents that Reagan was leaking Grand Jury information to Hubbard and the Riley’s as early as 2013.

Reagan and Sisson have been the fall guys so far, inside the AG's office, but it appears one or both of them were working with Baxley and Rob Riley on the outside. Reports Britt:

A personnel complaint filed by Reagan against Hart, is seen as a coordinated effort to paint Hart as a rogue prosecutor and perhaps show prosecutorial misconduct.

However, court records show that Baxley advised Reagan to write the report and later he had Moore subpoena the same report, in an effort to show untoward actions on Hart’s part. Here is a case of an attorney advising one client to make accusations against a prosecutor and the other to ask for the records to make the documents public in an effort to claim misconduct. . . .

Reagan's bogus complaint is believed to have been written with the assistance of Riley and/or Baxley.

This is an evolving story, with a lot of unknowns between the cracks. But a number of clear questions come to mind:

* Will VictoryLand and Center Stage Alabama have their property returned and be set for reopening, given that Reagan and Sisson have seen their credibility torn asunder? A ruling in Victoryland's forfeiture case was expected last November. The ruling now is roughly six months late, and one can only wonder why it takes so long to make a relatively uncomplicated decision, especially given that Reagan did not present a witness to counter Victoryland's expert testimony. Do efforts to obstruct justice lead to Alabama judges, including the justices of the Alabama Supreme Court?

* Will leaks and other efforts to hinder the Hubbard investigation lead to more than just terminations and forced resignations? These appear to be cases of obstruction that can be prosecuted under criminal law. Will that happen, and what agency (state, federal, both?) will lead the way?

* Will attention eventually shift from members of the AG's staff (Reagan and Sisson) to those with whom they apparently conspired on the outside? If the spotlight finally shines on Baxley and Rob Riley, does that mean two prominent members of the Alabama legal community will face criminal charges and possible disbarment?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will Baxley and the Rileys go down for obstruction? That's where the rubber will really meet the road. Sonny Reagan and Gene Sisson are small fish in a big, smelly pond.

Anonymous said...

Big Lutha seems to be running a tight ship down there.

Rob Roy said...

Message for Big Luther: When are you going to stop firing people and start prosecuting people? Isn't that what an AG is supposed to do?

Anonymous said...

If you are going to work in the AG's office, shouldn't it be a requirement that you know the law and actually follow it?

Anonymous said...

Isn't there enough probable cause to prosecute about a half dozen people (or more) here?

If five or six black guys got together and pulled this, indictments already would have been handed down, with prison cells warming up to hold them.

The law doesn't apply if you are white?

Anonymous said...

I think we can forget about the Fed's coming down to clean up Ala. The view being you get what you pay for. News about Mr Hubbard deals were widely know before this last election and we all saw what that vote was. I do feel that race plays a big role in this. If you make a stand against welfare and other left wing liberal give away programs then most of us God fearing, gun loving Alabamians are willing to over look a few crimes. Keep the black man down and the working poor, poor then you're got our vote. Only a few have enough smarts to dig a little deeper and to ask any questions at all. If they did they would find that our state is the biggest welfare state of the union. We give out corporate welfare like there ant no tomorrow, even to the point of bankrupting the state. Big business is not paying their fair share of taxes, this we all know. While we were fearing that liberal left black man in DC, big business came in and ate our lunch, then had the balls to ask what's for supper. Our government has always gave away our tax dollars. It either went to the poor who then used it to pay rent, buy food or as it is now, big business is getting it all but refusing to redistribute any of it back into our state economy. The gap between rich and poor is growing larger by the day. Each day more and more are coming to see how money was used to buy our government, to write laws making it all "perfectly legal" to screw over the least among us.

Robby Scott Hill said...

The AGs Office has been dysfunctional for over a decade, but this week it is no longer functioning. The top two AAGs are gone & the rank & file do not know who they can trust. The entire office is undergoing re-socialization. Those who can are transferring or retiring. It is a mess.

legalschnauzer said...

I bet you are on target, Rob. Now, you can add Alice Martin to the mix. What do you make of that?

Robby Scott Hill said...

Alice Martin has connections we don't have. I admire how she & Leura Canary are able to switch from federal to state jobs or private practice like there is no difference. When I try to parlay my experience with the state, it doesn't even qualify me to work in another state agency much less a federal job. We are typecast & held to a strict accountability in job searches. I'm locked into legal assistant in the tax or real estate field & you are locked into journalism, but somehow GOP elites can seamlessly transition from waitress in a seedy nightclub to legal assistant in a big law firm & eventually law student. Then it's attorney for the state until your boss, the AG becomes a Senator or federal judge. Then, you become a federal prosecutor or an agent with an alphabet soup agency until a President from the other party gets elected. Then, you go back to the state like you never left. Even if the other party has gained control of state government, you switch parties because it's more about belonging to the circle of elites than it is that ass or that elephant. I feel like the newly freed slave who went North looking for skilled work, but who after being lectured on the evils of slavery was always held to a strict accountability by his Yankee "friends" & couldn't hold down a job for long. I'm just about ready to return to the plantation & see if my master has some ham hocks, greens & cornbread for me. We've done some good in the blogosphere, but maybe it's time to end this 8 year old virtual war & claim our peace dividend. If certain folks were to begin negotiations in good faith, you might have an incentive to blog about other things. It will shock Montgomery to hear this, but 8 years of comments at Legal Schnauzer are enough for me. Every State Official & all 67 county Republican Parties & all the judges in those counties know how I feel. "You got to change your evil ways baby." If you don't, God will raise up other Legal Schnauzers & other Robby Hills. As master Yoda said, "There is another..." The saga will continue with new characters.

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting thoughts, Rob. To get in that inner circle, I guess you have to follow the elites' every direction and whim, no matter how unlawful, unethical, or improper it might be.

I sometimes wonder if that's where these sex scandals involving elites come from. Surely one party or the other has at least a slight sense of right and wrong, but if it will help enter the elite circle, it's, "Well, let's do it anyway!"

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why Big Luther hasn't gone after Sonny and anyone loosely associated with him with more than termination? I can't believe anyone can work that close in that office and not know dirt on the rest of the office. Right now everyone seems to be going about their business. Luther is prosecuting Snellgrove in Dothan and has moved Gilley from Atlanta to Dothan. Luther has to know Karma is going to catch up with him. If he had clean hands it would be different but he doesn't. I hope the people who has been steamrolling for so long come up with some surprises of their on in court.

Anonymous said...

How is Luther using an Alabama Power witness in the Snellgrove trial in Dothan that is not coached when Luther spends so much time at the Alabama Power Executive Offices in Birmingham? Just saying......

Anonymous said...

Well said and true

Anonymous said...

I would imagine anyone that has worked in that office knows dirt on Luther and the whole class of clowns.

Anonymous said...

Reagan and Sisson know too much on Luther and were kicked to the curb because they wont implicate the Rileys in something, anything so Lither can control the cash cow that is in the hands of the Rileys from the MS Indians right now. If Bentley and Luther can make this faux crisis scare people into accepting the Poach Creek Indians deal, the Rileys will go down the tubes because they wont be keeping their promise to keep gambling out of Alabama. Even Jack Abramnoff wrote about it. Most Alabamians are clueless.

Anonymous said...

LOL at "Rileys" and Hubbard for getting in bed with Sisson, it is coming just wait...Sisson is a bad bad sole and has been one going back many years. His practice of having a few drinks then rationalizing the benefits of creating the crimes to fit "his needs" is old game for him. What Rileys and others did not count on was Sisson's experience of observing those he has assisted in building cases against make a dash to the Federal prosecutor to be the 1st one to offer up testimony for a deal and stay out of prison. As he was the lead witness in the State's Bingo case, he will be the lead witness in the Fed's case against those who he assisted on the other side. Sad thing about it is Sisson will probably walk away without serving time. He knows the Middle district Fed prosecutors well, how well remains to be seen. Someone should take a hard, deep look into his work going back almost 3 decades of service, ha ha like that will happen...and every case his name was ever attached to run risk of being found to be corrupted...He should be doing time now for one of "many" abuses of his badge over the years. Too bad for those he has destroyed and personal gain he has benefited from by abusing the positions he has held dating back to when he was with city police in Montgomery. Oh well, just another cautionary tale of what happens when you give an self-riotous alcoholic with superiority complex a badge and cut them loose on the public.

legalschnauzer said...

Are you saying that you expect Sisson to turn on the Rileys and Hubbard in some way?