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?