Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We've been writing for years about corruption connected to the Swatek family, and surprise, that largely was the focus of Day 1 in Mike Hubbard trial

Tim Howe
No one could have known it at the time, but when Legal Schnauzer started in June 2007, it essentially presaged the opening day of the Mike Hubbard trial.

Quite a few of our early posts documented the corruption that had been swirling around Pelham attorney Bill Swatek for years. Swatek filed a bogus lawsuit against me on behalf of our criminally inclined neighbor, Mike McGarity, and the unlawful rulings of Shelby County judges in that case prompted me to start this blog. It also drove my wife, Carol, and me into an ugly conservative world populated by GOP dirt bags like Karl Rove, Bill Canary, and Bob and Rob Riley.

What does this have to do with the Hubbard case? Well, the only two witnesses called as the trial opened yesterday were Tim Howe and John Ross, both partners in the Montgomery-based consulting/lobbying firm Swatek Howe and Ross. The chief partner, Dax Swatek, has not testified, but he is on the state's extensive witness list.

This is a story of apples not falling far from the tree.

Speaking of trees, Dax Swatek comes from a decidedly unwholesome family tree. His father is Bill Swatek, whose record of sleaze in the legal profession dates back some 35 years. (See here, here, and here.) His late brother, Chace Swatek, was a lawyer whose body was found beside a Pelham highway after he reportedly had died from huffing. His sister, Barret Swatek, could be called a fading Hollywood actress, but she never had much of a star to begin with. Perhaps her most significant claim to fame is having dated producer Mike De Luca, who is known for engaging in fist fights, drunken driving and public blow jobs. Barret Swatek puts her conservative family values on display by dating guys like that.

As for the Hubbard trial, it started with two witnesses who have strong ties to the dysfunctional Swatek clan. Not surprisingly, the witnesses testified to acts that were so corrupt that they were almost comical. What do you know . . . Bill Swatek's law career is filled with corrupt acts that are downright comical.

Bill Swatek
Tim Howe took the stand yesterday and promptly admitted to using a pass-through company to funnel money to Hubbard--but ol' Tim made the unilateral decision to skim five percent off the top. How very Swatekian of him.

John Ross testified about a meeting designed to create a favorable position for his client, American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI). How favorable was the proposed legislation to be for APCI? It would give the company a monopoly on Medicaid prescription in Alabama. That's pretty favorable.

When Ross learned from a lobbyist that Hubbard was taking boatloads of cash from APCI, he was angry because of the obvious ethics problems that presented. Was Ross concerned that he had rigged the Medicaid system to benefit one company, his client? Was Ross concerned this might be a bad deal for Alabamians. Based on news reports of yesterday's proceedings, the answer appears to be no. Ross, it seems, was concerned because Hubbard's actions had increased the chances of someone getting caught. Again, how very Swatekian.

How bad is Bill Swatek, who could be called the "Father of All Corruption Described So Far in the Hubbard Trial"? I've written dozens of posts on that subject, but here is my favorite story.

In the late 1970s, Swatek represented a Pelham policeman named Johnny Bailey in an employment case. During depositions, Swatek allowed opposing counsel to use his office for what they thought was a private meeting. But Swatek surreptitiously tape recorded them. The opposing attorneys found the running tape recorder and confronted Swatek with it. He eventually told multiple bar committees that he knew nothing about the recorder, it had been his client's idea to use it. Swatek was charged with perjury, and somehow was acquitted at trial, even though the following section from the audiotape was presented to the jury:

William E. Swatek and Johnny Bailey on cassette tape taken by Paul G. Smith from Swatek's office on May 30, 1979:

Swatek: "Testing . . . one . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five . . . "

Bailey: ". . . 'cause that's the one probably to use, or do you want to use that one?"

Swatek: "I'd rather use this one, 'cause you can't hear it at all, and I can stick it down under the desk and . . . "

Swatek obviously knew about the tape recording. He decided which recorder to use, where to place it, and he tested it. He clearly lied under oath to the bar committees about it. But still a jury--which almost had to somehow be tainted--found him not guilty.

No wonder partners in the Swatek Howe Rowe firm think they can get away with anything. No wonder Mike Hubbard thinks he can be found not guilty.

Below is a portion of the transcript from Bill Swatek's 1981 trial. Don't be surprised if something just as nutty emerges from the Hubbard trial.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a legal expert, but what Howe describes sounds a lot like money laundering to me.

Anonymous said...

Agree with @2:13. This guy should go to prison at the same time as Hub-Ster.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Howe described this scheme as an everyday thing.

Anonymous said...

What's the 5% skim for? Services rendered? Or just straight up theft?

I suppose the straight up theft explanation might be necessary to deny participation in some sort of scheme involving a quid pro quo.

Anonymous said...

I hear that Bill Britt is reporting that Mike Hubbard has put a plea offer on the table.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, I've seen that, @2:55. Would be interesting to know the contents of Hubby's proposal.

Anonymous said...

Glad you pulled that Swatek transcript out of the mothballs, Schnauzer. What a classic. Always makes me howl with laughter . . .

"One . . . two . . . three . . . "

Anonymous said...

lol at the "One . . . two . . . three . . . "

I thought I remembered he blew into the mike once or twice and asked "Are you sure this thing is working?" but apparently that isn't in the transcript. Maybe I got this Swaytrek guy and Pee Wee Herman confused?

Anonymous said...

Dak Swatak...sounds so Alabama

e.a.f. said...

he was found not guilty. Lets hope times have changed, but I doubt it. This would make a fabulous movie. Nobody could make this stuff up.

If Alabama has any more trials like this I might have to get a passport to come and watch the show.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Federal trials of a state official can be a good thing. No opportunity for a Lt. Governor or other high level official Governor to conspire on a resignation/pardon scenario like Ford did for Nixon. If House Majority Leader Micky Hammon or Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston had pardon powers or Bentley wasn't at odds with the House Leadership & they could persuade him to pardon Hubbard, you know they would have executed on that by now. Poor Craig Ford is a guy who could have been Governor in another time, but Craig is basically a mushroom now because they are keeping him in the dark & feeding him a regular diet of bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Bill Baxley is defending Hubbard. A man who looks just like Seth Hammett is also at the defense table taking notes and conversing with Baxley, Hubbard and others at table. Is it in fact Seth Hammett?