The FBI in Alabama is encouraging citizens to come forward with information about public corruption, according to a recent article in The Birmingham News.
Given the political nature of many "corruption" cases brought in Alabama over the past 10 years or so, one immediately suspects an ulterior motive is behind the FBI's recent plea for information. I know from personal experience that Alabama FBI agents tend to ignore information they receive about public corruption, especially if it involves Republicans and/or members of the legal community.
So why should citizens believe the feds have a genuine concern now? They shouldn't, and that's because the FBI probably is up to something--and it likely has little to do with justice. For their trouble, however, The Birmingham News and at least one FBI agent might have bought themselves a defamation lawsuit. Serves them right. More on that in a minute.
The FBI piece, which ran in Sunday's newspaper, might be the strangest story I've ever read in The Birmingham News--and that's saying something. What is the main point of the story? It seems to be this, based on information from agent Tom Mayhall:
Mayhall and other FBI agents want more people to step forward--anonymously or not--with information about public corruption. And when a person does risk stepping forward, agents will work to keep their identity secret, he said.
"We have to give people a level of confidence" to the extent possible, Mayhall said.
The FBI reminds the public that timeliness can be important in a public corruption case:
Stepping forward with information as quickly as possible is important. That's because the statute of limitations on certain crimes can prevent charges from being filed and a suspect can get away with a crime, he said.
We even learn that the Birmingham FBI has a Contracting Corruption Questionnaire on its Web site. And The Birmingham News article, curiously, focuses almost entirely on a recap of the Jefferson County sewer case.
Does the FBI want information about public corruption in general or only certain kinds, especially those involved with contractors? If it is focusing only on crime associated with contractors, why is that? Why are public officials getting a free pass for other forms of corruption, such as that involving courts.
I can provide reams of information about public corruption involving lawyers, judges, and our courthouses. I know more than a dozen people who can provide similar information. But is that the "wrong kind" of corruption for the FBI? I'm going to soon pay a visit to the Birmingham FBI and find out--and I'm going to encourage my contacts to do the same thing.
I've got information that probably could put any number of Birmingham-area judges and lawyers in federal prison for quite a spell. I know other citizens who have similar information, coming from both Jefferson and Shelby counties. Perhaps we soon will learn if the FBI really is serious about public corruption in Alabama.
Meanwhile, The Birmingham News perhaps have stepped in doo-doo by focusing on the sewer case. That's because Mayhall might have been a little loose with the facts in some of his statements about the case. He focused partly on former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White:
The first indictment came in 2005 in the McNair and Swann cases. Former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White was indicted on federal bribery charges involving contractor Sohan Singh and US Infrastructure in Nov. 2007.
Langford, Blount and LaPierre were indicted in December 2008 on bribery charges.
The FBI already was investigating White for allegations involving his time as commissioner supervising the county's general services. Those allegations involved an architect, whose firm had ongoing county projects, providing White free architectural plans for a garage and mountain cabin in Mentone and hunting trips to South Dakota.
Sohan Singh, the contractor charged in the bribery of McNair, stepped forward to tell FBI agents about bribing White, Mayhall said.
Judy White, wife of Gary White, was none too pleased with how her husband was portrayed in the article, and she ripped off the following e-mail to reporter Kent Faulk, demanding a retraction:
On behalf of Gary White, this is a demand for correction and retraction.
The article bearing your "by" line states as follows: "Sohan Singh, the contractor charged in the bribery of McNair, stepped forward to tell FBI agents about bribing White, Mayhall said."
That is absolutely and provably FALSE; it is also absurdly illogical. Sohan Singh pleaded not guilty to bribing Chris McNair and has maintained his innocence while continuing his appeals. How much sense does it make that he would deny bribing Chris McNair, then, out of the blue "step forward" and tell his own prosecutors that he bribed Gary White, not Chris McNair?
And, if that actually happened, why wasn't Sohan Singh charged with bribing Gary White? Does that mean if I "step forward" and "tell FBI agents" that I--hypothetically--robbed a bank, for instance, they would pat me on the back, thank me, give me credit, but not charge me? I don't think so.
Your article quotes Mayhall . . . as saying, "The sewer cases . . . were viewed as three investigations." Think back to elementary school practices, and you don't have to look hard to see which one is different: the--wrongful--prosecution of Gary White. What is missing or different? It's very easy--and I'm not even a deputy-dog reporter.
In the other cases, alleged participating parties--PLURAL--were charged, being those who were alleged to have paid AND received. Gary White was charged ALONE with bribery--by definition a multi-party crime--and conspiracy--by definition a multi-party crime. Again, Sohan Singh was not charged, nor did he plead guilty or have any negative consequences whatsoever.
How does that work, IF he "step[ped] forward to tell FBI agents about bribing" anyone? Why doesn't your article mention the millions of dollars that were CREDITED to him after his testimony at Gary's trial? And why didn't he testify to having bribed Gary? Bill Blount testified that he bribed Larry Langford, and if I'm not mistaken, Al Lapierre did as well. Sohan Singh never testified or made any claim or statement that he bribed Gary White. His testimony at trial was, in fact, quite the opposite. I have previously provided the trial transcripts. but no one has been interested in even reading, much less reporting, what was actually said, preferring instead to simply publish false information provided by Alice Martin's press office.
The reasons Gary White was targeted and prosecuted have nothing to do with bribery, conspiracy, or public corruption--other than the corruption of Alice Martin, Tom Mayhall, and their counterparts. It began with his refusal to give prosecutors false testimony against Siegelman and Scrushy, and continued, with someone telling us at one point of one driving factor being the "Oreo" factor. Alice Martin had prosecuted Chris McNair and had her sights on Larry Langford, but needed a white Republican to avert claims of racial and political bias. Gary White was the Oreo filling, the victim of a corrupt political prosecution.
We long ago understood your employer's lack of interest in the truth. It is irresponsible and actionable for you to continue to publish false and defamatory information, having been informed of its falseness and provided proof thereof, which establishes malice.
We look forward to your immediate and prominent retraction and correction, in compliance with the legally established standard. I will also remind you that case law has established the responsibility of the publication, even when attributing a quote, when the information quoted is not true.
Judith Ayers White
as Attorney in Fact for Gary White
I know Judy White to be a smart, tough individual--and her e-mail makes a compelling case that The Birmingham News and FBI agent Mayhall engaged in serious misstatements regarding the sewer case.
If agents such as Mayhall can't keep their facts straight, should we trust the FBI with information about public corruption?