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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FBI agent Keith Baker intended to turn over grand-jury information to Governor Bob Riley, attorney says


Jim Parkman
The chief federal investigator in the Alabama bingo prosecution intended to take grand-jury information to Governor Bob Riley, according to a defense attorney who had viewed text messages between FBI agent Keith Baker and the court reporter with whom Baker was having an extramarital affair.

Both Baker, lead agent on the case, and court reporter Mallory McCutchin (she was Mallory Johnson at the time, but since has taken back her maiden name) knowingly subverted the grand-jury process, attorney Jim Parkman said.

According to recently unsealed documents, Parkman suggested the matter be referred to George Beck, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, for a grand-jury investigation. "This is a crime," said Parkman, who represented former State Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I-Slocomb).

VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor perhaps was the most high-profile defendant in the two bingo trials, which produced three guilty pleas and zero convictions--proving to be one of the most embarrassing outcomes for federal prosecutors in recent memory.

During a closed-door meeting with U.S. Judge Myron Thompson, federal prosecutor Justin V. Shur tried to downplay the significance of the e-mails between Baker and Johnson. But Parkman was not buying it:

In reading the text messages, Your Honor, Mr. Shur pointed out certain things, but he left out two things that are the most important in here. He just skipped over it like it didn't even exist.

Now, the first one is very clear . . . where Ms. Johnson sends a text message to [Baker], "Don't repeat anything I told you about the grand jury today, please." The response is even more interesting, "I never do." This hadn't been a one-time thing. She has been telling him things about this grand jury and testimony. It is obvious by the words in here that she has been leaking information to him.

Why is this important? Parkman explains, referring to Baker's sworn testimony during a Saturday hearing on the text-message issue:

The importance of this is two-fold. A, it gives him information that he's not entitled to, to either correct with witnesses or to investigate further for the Government's side. Number two, this is a crime. Number three, I was there Saturday, and . . . I did not hear him tell this Court under oath, "Yes, we talked about grand jury stuff." I did not hear him tell you that. That is perjury. There is no other way around it.

And I'm saying to you that I totally agree with you, the good old boy network is in place. They know about this.

Mallory McCutchin
The "good old boy network" apparently is a reference to Bob Riley and his allies--and Parkman soon would mention the former governor by name. But first, he had a second point about the Baker-Johnson text messages, especially one that referred to the Special Grand Jury (S.G.J.):

Again, look at what she says.

"Did you get my text about the S. G. J. three?"

Answer: "I did. That's a lot of stuff."

Baker: "Is that the last two days?"

"Yep. You've got to read it too."

Parkman, it seems, can't believe what he is reading--and that draws his attention to Bob Riley:

Since when do we start giving grand jury information from a court reporter . . . to investigators? And what's troubling to me is, there have been a lot of innuendos in this case about a relationship, not from me, and I didn't think much of it at first, a lot in here about Governor Riley and his work. [Baker is] going to see Governor Riley in here after he has access to all the grand jury information. So what's up with that?

Parkman clearly sensed something smelly about the whole scenario:

Now, I don't know, and I'm not that smart, but I'll tell you this, when I saw this, this was appalling to me after [Baker's] testimony. You may not think so, Your Honor, but I tell you what, when you have an F. B. I. agent get on this stand and swear under oath to you nothing's going on about this thing and it's right here . . .

So I think this is more serious than what's just the Government going, "Oh, it's just a love affair." I don't mind a love affair, have at it, but when it involves my client and this investigation and this case and lying to your face, I think that it's more serious than that.

What should be done about it? Parkman had some clear ideas:

Now, here's my response of what we need to do. I think it needs to be taken -- I think serious consideration. . . .

Number two is, I think that you should get with, because this is secret in here, there's nothing we can do about it as lawyers, but I think you should get with George Beck, the new U. S. Attorney, and at least begin a process of a grand jury investigation with regard to charges. I'm sorry to say that, but this is serious stuff, especially in light of what I brought to the Court's attention about some rumors in the past. I don't like rumors, but I will tell you that something more may come to light . . . about that. That may not be a rumor anymore.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, big-time reporting, LS. Story of the day in Alabama. Might turn out to be the story of the year.

Anonymous said...

That sound you hear is Bob Riley's mask being peeled off.

Anonymous said...

Right-wing heads are going to explode when they read this.

Spaz said...

A picture of the court reporter. Yowzah! We can always count on you, LS, to bring home the good stuff.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! This is unbelievable stuff, LS. Amazing reporting as always, but this is just HUGE!

Anonymous said...

How long will al.com ignore this story?

Anonymous said...

This is what made my jaw drop. It's still on the floor! ..... "Ms. Johnson sends a text message to [Baker], "Don't repeat anything I told you about the grand jury today, please." The response is even more interesting, "I never do." This hadn't been a one-time thing. She has been telling him things about this grand jury and testimony. It is obvious by the words in here that she has been leaking information to him." TALK ABOUT A SMOKING GUN!!!!

Anonymous said...

Jim Parkman is delusional if he thinks George Beck is going to take on any case that involves real work. Not gonna happen.

Chuckles said...

The names of the court reporter--both married and maiden--and a picture of her. The Schnauzer knows what the public really wants!

Anonymous said...

You nailed it, @10:37. That's the most damning information in the entire post. It raises this question: Did Bob Riley ask Keith Baker to get the grand-jury info from the court reporter? I'm guessing the answer to that question can be found in some of the missing e-mails.

Anonymous said...

Hope this doesn't cause you to wind up back at the Graybar Hotel, Mr. Schnauzer. Rob Riley will not be pleased.

Shaheed AbdulAzeez said...

What was Baker's involvement in the Seilegman's trial?

legalschnauzer said...

Can't tell if you are joking, @11:06, but just for the record, reporting on court proceedings is privileged and cannot be the basis of a defamation lawsuit. That, of course, doesn't mean Rob Riley won't sue me for it. If he does, it will be no more bogus than the lawsuit he's already filed.

legalschnauzer said...

Shaheed, Baker was an investigator on the Siegelman case and was a regular presence in the courtroom during trial. In fact, one of the female jurors supposedly passed a note asking if he was married. We now know that being married doesn't seem to matter with Baker one way or another.

Jessie said...

As one of your female readers, I want to see a picture of Keith Baker. I want to know what gives him this incredible animal magnetism.

legalschnauzer said...

Jessie: I've never seen a photo of Keith Baker, and I'm starting to wonder if one exists. Perhaps he is some sort of super-hero phantom who swooshes through courtrooms and causes women's clothing to spontaneously fall off. Must be a super power of some sort, one I obviously didn't inherit.

Just for you, I will be sure to publish a photo of Keith Baker if I can ever get my hands on one.

Anonymous said...

I think Bob Riley and Keith Baker might have conspired to pull a con game on this young court reporter. I think Baker, at Riley's direction, targeted this young woman so that he could get grand-jury information out of her. I think Ms. McCutchin is a victim in all of this, and looks like it broke up her marriage. I think Bob Riley and Keith Baker are among the lowest dirt bags on the face of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone safe anymore? With this news along with the ongoing cluster fuck of the Lee county grand jury process it appears that the rule of law is the same as the golden rule. Whoever has the gold and the power can use the law and our court system to destroy whoever they like. You went to jail, lost your home, but in a way maybe your lucky. You are still alive. Please, someone, somewhere get us some help. I dislike the overreaching federal government as much as the next Alabama redneck, but Jesus H Christ this is unbelievable!!!!! Can anyone working for our state AG's office be trusted anymore? As sad as it is, I already know the two answers, 1) I don't recall 2) I would like to take the fifth, remain silent and refuse to answer anymore question without my attorney.

Anonymous said...

I agree with @12:30. I think this young woman got played, and I feel bad for her. I assume Baker is quite a bit older than her?

legalschnauzer said...

The documents I've seen indicate Baker is roughly 20 years older than her.