Monday, April 19, 2010

Is Birmingham FBI Division Serious About Public Corruption?

The Birmingham Division of the FBI recently announced that it is initiating a special effort to combat public corruption, particularly in connection with federal stimulus funds. It is part of a nationwide crackdown on corruption and fraud.

Local FBI officials have taken several steps to encourage citizens to come forward with information about possible public corruption. Should the public take this action seriously? Based on our experiences during the Bush administration, the official Legal Schnauzer statement is, "I'll believe it when I see it."

Of course, President Barack Obama now is in charge of the U.S. Justice Department, which includes the FBI. Even though Obama's performance so far on justice matters should be ranked somewhere between "lame" and "dismal," perhaps we can hope that the feds now will pursue cases of genuine corruption--and not just go after Democrats or people of color for political reasons.

What is public corruption? The FBI states:

Public corruption is a breach of trust by federal, state, or local officials—often with the help of private sector accomplices. It’s also the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority. The FBI relies heavily on public assistance in identifying potential wrongdoing by public officials and no information—no matter how seemingly insignificant it may seem is unimportant.

How can citizens report possible public corruption in Birmingham? The local FBI office has established a link on its Web site:

You can report concerns about corruption via e-mail to: (placing "public corruption tip" in the subject line)

A telephone tip line is available at 877-628-2533. Also, an advertisement has been scheduled for the legals section of The Birmingham News on the following three Sundays--April 18, April 25, and May 2.

Says Patrick J. Maley, FBI special agent in charge of the Birmingham division:

We need the eyes and ears of all concerned citizens to help us in fighting crime and corruption. Don’t be a silent witness. Call the FBI if you are aware of any possible corruption or fraud.

We've had personal experience with reporting public corruption during the Bush era. I sent detailed information to former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and FBI Special Agent in Charge Carmen S. Adams. Martin stonewalled, and Adams did nothing at all. In fact, I've seen no sign that Carmen Adams even exists.

Of course, my complaints were about Republican judges in Shelby County and dirt bag lawyer William E. Swatek, who has strong family ties to the GOP. At that time, the feds only were interested in alleged wrongdoing by members of one party, not both.

Just off the top of our head, we can think of several sleazy situations the feds need to check into:

* Corruption involving judges and the sheriff's office in Shelby County almost certainly still is going on.

* Corruption in Jefferson County Domestic Relations Court almost certainly still is going on.

* A company partly owned by Homewood attorney Rob Riley (son of Governor Bob Riley) has been accused of practicing health-care fraud, in association with several partners who have ties to UAB.

* Several lawyers who defend corrupt debt collectors have filed fraudulent documents in federal court.

Those are just cases we've covered here at Legal Schnauzer, and I'm just one citizen--in one state. Imagine what other citizens around the country have witnessed. But is the FBI serious this time?

Perhaps there is at least one hopeful sign. The mysterious Carmen Adams apparently has been replaced by Patrick J. Maley, which would almost have to be an improvement.

Has anything else changed? Perhaps it's time for us to find out.

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