Should we believe the "tough guy" rhetoric in Strange's sentencing motion, and the "Oh, My God, this would be a stiff sentence" malarkey that spewed forth from mainstream media (MSM) outlets al.com and the Montgomery Advertiser? No, we should not, because it's all a crock.
In fact, the absurdly lenient sentence recommendation from Strange's office makes it seem the Hubbard prosecution was just for show all along. It also adds credence to charges from Hubbard supporters that the whole thing was a political prosecution, designed to help eliminate one of Strange's strongest opponents from the 2018 governor's race.
If Hubbard ever goes to prison at all, he likely will be out not long after a new governor is inaugurated in January 2019. Based on the sentencing recommendation, it appears Strange wanted Hubbard tied up just long enough to miss the governor's race.
How do we know the proposed five-year incarceration is laugh-out-loud lenient? Consider the case of Deann Stone, former director of federal programs for the Alabama Department of Education. A jury convicted her in October 2014 on five ethics counts involving use of her position to provide more than $10 million in grant money to Information Transport Solutions, where her husband, Dave, was employed. Dave Stone was convicted of aiding and abetting his wife on each count.
This is from a December 2014 press report about the AG's sentencing recommendation:
The state attorney general's office is asking a judge to give a former state education official and her husband 50-year sentences in an ethics case involving millions of dollars.
The attorney general is seeking the sentence for 51-year-old Deann Stone and 55-year-old Dave Stone of Wetumpka. Deann Stone is the former director of federal programs for the state Department of Education. . . .
The attorney general's office is asking that the Stones get 10 years on each count and that the sentences run consecutively.
Why would the same AG (Luther Strange) who wanted the Stones to serve 10 years behind bars for each count want Mike Hubbard to serve less than six months for each count on which he was convicted?
To be sure, no two criminal cases are alike, and we see obvious differences between the Stone and Hubbard cases. We also see similarities, and one could make a reasonable argument that corruption in the Hubbard case was worse than that in the Stone case. A few points to consider about the two cases:
* The Stone case involved $10 million, but it's not clear how much of that directly benefited the Stones; the Hubbard case involved about $1.6 million of personal gain;
|Deann K. Stone|
* Hubbard was an elected official, holding what many consider the most powerful political office in Alabama. Mrs. Stone worked for the state, but she did not hold elective office;
* Both Hubbard and the Stones faced possible penalties of two to 20 years on each count.
Did Strange's recommendation of 50 years for each of the Stones carry much weight in the courtroom? Nope. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick sentenced each of them to two years. From an article about the actual sentence:
The judge said Deann Stone should have stepped aside from the grant awarding process because her husband's employer was representing applicants, but she didn't. Instead, he said the Stones exchanged emails about the grant process.
The Stones sound a bit like Mike Hubbard and Bob Riley, don't they? But it's hard to imagine the couple was even close to being that sleazy.
So, Luther Strange wants us to believe he's really socking it to Mike Hubbard? The Stone case tells a different story. The Hubbard sentence recommendation would have to improve to be a slap on the wrist.
A major problem with the Hubbard case all along is that the AG probably is as corrupt as the defendant, maybe more so. The sentencing recommendation in the Hubbard case indicates Luther Strange is playing games with taxpayer dollars, something he seems to do a lot. In fact, it might be the "legacy" he leaves behind.