|A-Advance Bail Bonds in Tuscaloosa|
(From Tuscaloosa News)
The fire was contained toward the back of the A-Advance Bail Bonds building on T.Y. Rogers Avenue, according to a report in The Tuscaloosa News. The building sustained minor damage to the siding and wood framing, but officials said the fire appeared to have been intentionally set.
The business was involved in the recent arrest of attorney John Fisher Jr. and Christopher Shane Rushing, a Northport man who has an extensive criminal record, much of it related to possession or distribution of controlled substances.
From an article published Monday in The Tuscaloosa News, written by reporter Stephanie Taylor:
Firefighters say that a fire at a bail bonding company Sunday appears to have been set intentionally.
The fire set at the back of the A-Advance Bail Bonds building caused minor damage to the siding and wood framing, said Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service Fire Marshal Gene Holcomb.
It's the same business owned by a bail bondsman who was involved in the recent arrest of Tuscaloosa attorney John Fisher.
Firefighters were called to the business on T.Y. Rogers Avenue Sunday morning, Holcomb said.
"It is suspicious, and we are investigating," he said. Arson investigators have recovered samples from the site, he said.
Why would someone intentionally set a fire at A-Advance Bail Bonds? Does it involve the company's prime role in one of the most peculiar crimes in recent west Alabama history? Writes Taylor:
Drug investigators were at the business last week after bail bondsman Mark Flemmings found a backpack containing a meth lab in the office.
He told investigators that Christopher Shane Rushing had left the bag in his office, and he suspected that he was being set up to be arrested, according to court documents. West Alabama Narcotics Task Force agents watched the business, and reported that they saw Fisher arrive and later leave with the bag. The agents followed Fisher back to his office on Greensboro Avenue, and later charged him and Rushing with trafficking methamphetamine.
Records from the Alabama Secretary of State show Markeithian N. and Sparkle M. Flemmings being involved in a number of businesses related to bail bonds and real estate. The registered office address for A-Advance Bail Bonds is listed as: 14966 TOWNSEND LOOP RD, MOUNDVILLE, AL 35474.
The Flemmings, understandably, find the recent events disturbing and are determined to get to the bottom of them. Writes Taylor:
Flemmings is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to an arrest for the fire.
"We're actively trying to find out who did it," he said. "I don't know where this is coming from. I'm not a person who carries enemies at all. As far as why I was a target, I don't know."
Flemmings received a call that his building was on fire at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
Was the arson designed to intimidate Flemmings? If so, it doesn't seem to be working:
"I don't think this was a random act," he said. "I hope we can bring the people who did it to justice and prosecute them properly. They will be brought to justice, I promise you that."
He declined to comment on the charges against Fisher and Rushing.
The Alabama Supreme Court has appointed a Walker County Circuit Judge to preside over their cases because Fisher has practiced for years in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court.
Walker County Circuit Court Judge Henry Allred will preside over a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 23.
Flemmings might not know where the arson is coming from, but it should be noted that Fisher's Facebook friends page suggests he is well connected in conservative political, legal, and media circles. Gov. Robert Bentley and Sec. of State John Merrill are among his Facebook friends. From our recent post on the subject:
A report at Raw Story, by reporter David Ferguson, states that Fisher is active in Alabama's Tea Party movement. In 2010, Fisher ran for a seat in the state legislator and appeared at multiple Tea Party rallies with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Fisher lost the primary election to Republican Bill Poole. Ferguson notes that Fisher's show claims it is known for "“Plain Talk, Easily Understood with NO Political Correctness.”
Is Fisher well connected in conservative circles? In addition to Bentley and Merrill, consider just a few prominent figures who appear on Fisher's Facebook friends list:
* Jessica Mederios Garrison -- lawyer, GOP operative, closely aligned with AG Luther Strange and U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer. (Palmer has spent a significant amount of cash for Garrison's consulting services. More on that in an upcoming post.)
* Lee Garrison -- Jessica's former husband and president of the Tuscaloosa City School Board
* Cliff Sims -- publisher of Yellowhammer News
* Leland Whaley -- right-wing talk host
* Matt Murphy -- right-wing talk host
* Chip Beeker -- Alabama Public Service Commission
* Gary Palmer -- member of U.S. House of Representatives
* Brandon Falls -- district attorney, Jefferson County (appointed by former Gov. Bob Riley)
* Cam Parsons -- attorney for real-estate magnate Stan Pate
* Allen May -- veterinarian and director at Paul Bryant Jr.'s Greene Group
Fisher's friends list also includes a number of individuals who appear to be from Russia or Ukraine. Since the above report was published on August 22, Fisher's Facebook page was taken down for a few days, but now is back up.