Thursday, March 29, 2018

Missouri Public Defender Patty Poe had nothing to do with getting jail time off the table in Carol's case, and her con game is a sign of corruption in the Ozarks

The ugliness of an eviction
For months, Missouri public defender Patty Poe had been trying to con Carol and me with her mantra that "even if cops had acted unlawfully in your eviction, that was not a defense to the 'assault of a law enforcement officer' charges against Carol." As we've already shown, Poe tended to "put the cart before the horse," focusing on Carol's defense, when the first order of business was to attack the state's case.

Given that the prosecution holds the burden of proof -- if it can't make its prima facie case, there is no reason to have a defense -- even we (as non-lawyers) knew Poe was going about things in a bass-ackwards way. Carol was about to drive that home forcefully enough that it apparently caused Poe to bail out of the case -- taking the possibility of jail time with her.

The docket at for State v. Carol T. Shuler (1631-CR07731) reveals a curious time-stamping issue -- and we will address that shortly. But evidence in our possession indicates Carol's ability to back Poe into a corner on relevant law is what caused jail time to be taken off the table.

When we left Poe in our previous post, Carol was shredding her argument from State v. Summers, 43 S.W. 3d 323 (2001)regarding the impact of cops' unlawful actions. Poe left her claim out there that cops' unconstitutional acts provide no defense for victims of those acts, so Carol decided to jump on it -- and she apparently landed a knockout blow. From Carol's email to Poe, promptly showing the latter's claims re: Summers were so much horse feces:

The U.S. Supreme Court disagrees with you. In Soldal v. Cook County, SCOTUS found that an illegal eviction implicates Fourth Amendment rights. From a summary of the case at Wikipedia:

"Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56 (1992), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a seizure of property like that which occurs during an eviction, even absent a search or an arrest, implicates the Fourth Amendment. The Court also held that the Amendment protects property as well as privacy interests, in both criminal as well as civil contexts. Finally, saying that "certain wrongs affect more than a single right", the Court left open the possibility that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections against deprivation of property without due process of law may also be implicated."

My Fourth Amendment rights were trampled, which means a motion to suppress should kick out all evidence collected due to an illegal eviction. That means the probable cause statement has to be kicked, leaving the prosecution with no case.

I would call that a defense; you might call it something else. But whatever you call it, this case demands that a motion to suppress be filed -- and based on my reading of 24.04, a motion to dismiss also would be proper -- to get all evidence booted because it was the fruit of an illegal seizure/search. Even you don't make much of an argument that the search was legal. You seem to claim it doesn't matter. Well, Soldal makes it clear that it does matter. Palmietto's comments from the bench at my last hearing make it clear she knows it matters. Therefore, we need to file a motion to suppress or dismiss -- I believe either is proper under the law.

Soldal is so on point that it even involves an eviction. Here is a summary of the issues at hand, from the opinion itself, written by the late Justice Byron "Whizzer" White:

While eviction proceedings were pending, Terrace Properties and its manager, Margaret Hale, forcibly evicted petitioners, the Soldal family, and their mobile home from a Terrace Properties' mobile home park. At Hale's request, Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff's Department deputies were present at the eviction. Although they knew that there was no eviction order and that Terrace Properties' actions were illegal, the deputies refused to take Mr. Soldal's complaint for criminal trespass or otherwise interfere with the eviction. Subsequently, the state judge assigned to the pending eviction proceedings ruled that the eviction had been unauthorized, and the trailer, badly damaged during the eviction, was returned to the lot. Petitioners brought an action in the Federal District Court under 42 U. S. C. § 1983, claiming that Terrace Properties and Hale had conspired with the deputy sheriffs to unreasonably seize and remove their home in violation of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Acknowledging that what had occurred was a "seizure" in the literal sense of the word, the court reasoned that it was not a seizure as contemplated by the Fourth Amendment because, inter alia, it did not invade petitioners' privacy.

Held: The seizure and removal of the trailer home implicated petitioners' Fourth Amendment rights.

The similarities between Soldal and our situation are stark and stunning. Here are just a few:

(1) Soldal involved unlawful police actions while eviction proceedings were pending. The same was true in our case. Cops had only an interlocutory order here in Missouri, with a followup hearing set for a month away to consider other issues, including our counterclaim;

(2) Cops in Soldal knew there was no eviction order. That almost certainly was true in our case, as well. There could not have been a valid eviction order in Missouri because the judgment was not final. Plus, we've seen no evidence of a writ of execution that was signed by a judge or included the county seal, as required by law.

(3) In Soldal, the landlord showed utter disregard for the law, moving ahead with an eviction when she knew it had not been authorized by the court. Landlord Trent Cowherd acted in much the same fashion here in Missouri.

Here is Patty Poe's limp-wristed response to Carol's assertions about Soldal:

Hi Carol:

I don't find the Soldal case to be analogous to your case in many regards, especially considering there was a judgment in your case and not in the Soldal case. It goes back to what the officers reasonably believed, in Soldal they knew that there wasn't an eviction notice. Additionally, there are around 45 cases that declined to adopt Soldal or had some negative treatment.

Additionally, the State filed a notice of jail waiver (attached). Therefore, I will be withdrawing my representation pursuant to RSMo 600.042.4(2). My motion to withdraw will be heard on November 22 at 9:00 AM, you need to be there anyway. If the judge sustains my motion to withdraw you will need to hire private counsel or represent yourself. The good news is, they can only seek a fine, community service, or some type of class instead of jail time.

I will not be doing any further work on your case.



Poe's first paragraph is pure rubbish. There was no final judgment in either our case or the Soldal case, so they absolutely are analogous. Poe provides no evidence, and we have not found any, to show that Soldal is anything but good law.

In the second paragraph, Carol learns that Poe is bailing out of the case, and jail time is off the table. Is that because of anything Poe did? I don't see how. From where I sit it's clear, Carol backed Poe into a corner by showing motions to suppress had to be filed, and Poe was too big a wuss to do it -- so she bailed out. What a profile in courage!

As for the time-stamping issue, the docket shows prosecutor Nicholas Jain filed his Notice of Jail Waiver on 11/1/17, with Poe filing her Motion to Withdraw on 11/6/17. If that were the case, why didn't Poe tell Carol that up front? Why go through the rigmarole re: Summers and Soldal, etc.?

Experience has taught me that courthouse clerks' offices are among the most corrupt places on earth. I suspect the Jain and Poe documents were prepared simultaneously, and someone arranged for his to have an early time stamp, covering up signs of possible collusion.

My guess is that Jain and Poe know they can't possibly get a conviction against Carol in a court with the slightest hint of integrity. Their only hope is that Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto is corrupt and acts contrary to black-letter law by denying Carol's motions to suppress. And given evidence in recent months, it's starting to appear that Palmietto is utterly lacking in integrity -- showing my efforts to cut her slack and give her the benefit of the doubt were wildly misguided.

Those, by the way, are the motions Poe steadfastly refused to file, costing us at least five or six months of court headaches. So, we're supposed to believe Patty Poe was acting out of the goodness of  her heart by helping get jail time off the table?

Not for one second. I, for one, don't believe there is any goodness in her heart. And it's becoming clear the Greene County Courthouse and its environs -- judges, sheriff's office personnel, public defenders, prosecutors -- contain a virulent form of corruption that could give Shelby County, Alabama, a run for its money.

They all are packed into a tight legal-tribe nest that needs to be fumigated. I would be happy to be involved in that project.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Milton McGregor, Alabama's King of Gambling, is gone, but his battle against deep-seated political corruption will continue through the example he set

Milton McGregor
Milton McGregor, a titan of Alabama business and politics for 35 years, died on Sunday -- and online tributes have been pouring in from people who knew him as a shrewd businessman and a good-hearted soul, with influence that crossed racial and economic boundaries.

I got to know McGregor through my reporting on Deep South corruption, and I found him to be sharp, insightful, tough, and charming. He also was an almost limitless source of information about the sometimes dysfunctional gears of Alabama politics.

As the owner of VictoryLand casino, McGregor was the target of corrupt state and federal efforts to shutter his business -- most famously from former Gov. Bob Riley and his oily son, Rob, often with back-stabbing assistance from current U.S. Sen. and phony Democrat Doug Jones. In one of the most shameful episodes of the Obama years, beat federal charges in a criminal case that produced zero convictions.

Legal Schnauzer reported on McGregor's battles in a way that could be found at no other news outlet. Over and over, via in-depth analysis (supported by court documents and case law), we showed McGregor and his business were wrongly targeted by Riley and former Attorney General Luther Strange. Years from now, our blog will serve as a repository of investigative journalism that shows Milton McGregor was on the right side of the law against some of the worst political thugs this state ever has produced.

With its history of divisive white "leaders," favoring the land-owning and moneyed elites, McGregor was cut from a different cloth. He helped bring a sense of prosperity and hope to Macon County, with its population that is almost 83 percent black.

The finest journalistic tribute we've seen comes from Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter. It's title is "Milton McGregor lied to me," and that hints at a surprise ending, which likely will bring a tear to those who ever crossed paths with McGregor.

Another fine tribute comes opp researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson, who uses a post at her Facebook page to provide considerable insight on the slimy tactics Bob and Rob Riley used against McGregor. She also shows how McGregor helped educate the public about Alabama corruption, especially in the political prosecution of Don Siegelman. From the Simpson post:

I will miss Milton. I will never forget the day my story in the Siegelman case broke in The New York Times and Time magazine, I spent the day with Milton McGregor and Tommy Gallion, trying to figure out what was next. And by late afternoon, we had agreed 60 Minutes was next. Milton's only goal was to let folks know what crooks the Rileys really were to him, and Siegelman and Scrushy -- both of whom Milton considered friends. Milton had heard I told the Siegelman and Scrushy bunch about how Rob Riley and his old college roommate had beat Milton and his friends out of around $40 million all total -- and Milton wanted me to tell him about where it had gone in Russia, and I shared with him what I knew at the time.

McGregor helped Simpson find her way through the brier patch of the Siegelman case, and he took an active role in trying to unmask organized criminals in the Heart of Dixie:

It was Milton who hired Tommy Gallion to protect me back then from the Riley crooks,  and Milton who got the national press to cover the story, as he knew the Rileys were crooks who had stolen a large sum of money from him and others. I want to share it was Milton's lawyer, Tommy Gallion, who got [Karl] Rove fired for pulling the stunts he did with the Riley-Canary bunch at the time, as Tommy had known George W Bush since 1972 when he came to Montgomery to help with the Blount campaign. Everyone should know that for years Milton tried to put the crooked Alabama Gang of Crooks, which was led by the Riley folks and Billy Canary, in prison. Milton was always there to help folks who were trying to do the same thing, as he had never seen in all his time in politics a more corrupt bunch than Rob Riley and his Russian thugs.

McGregor knew his way around a business deal, but also could be a maestro with the press:

I will miss Milton; he was a good man who did not believe in political prosecutions. I might add it was Milton who helped see the story was told in the Siegelman case on film -- and without his help, I doubt we would have ever seen a day like now. An entire state knows pretty much what crooks we had when the Riley bunch were in office, and also when Robert Bentley. 
So y'all all know, like Josh Moon, I learned a lot from Milton, as he was like a walking Encyclopedia of Alabama Political History; he had been right in the middle of it for most his adult life. Of all the folks I dealt with in the Siegelman case, Milton was by far the most honest of the bunch and always the brightest guy in the room. Never once did he lie to me; he delivered what he promised. In fact, he told me, "Jill tell me your story, and I will see it is told -- and he did so." 
But for Milton, I probably never would have gotten in the position I am in today, seeing stories told. Which has led to seeing the story told that will bring down the whole Trump/ Bannon/Cambridge Analytica deal. It was Milton and Tommy who helped me see I met the right press folks over the years to see our whole Alabama Corrupt Gang was outed to start with. And that same bunch of press folks has seen the Cambridge Analytica stories are told recently.

McGregor touched Simpson's heart, as he touched the hearts of many Alabamians:

I just want to say one last time I am forever grateful for Milton showing up to help me. I told him several times over the years I don't know what I would have done had he not showed up to help. He always would say, "Well, Jill, I just want to see those Riley crooks go to jail for what they did to me with that money in the the Russian lottery deal and what they did to my friends" -- and then he would encourage me to continue on seeing the story was told. That said, I want to wish my friend, Milton, goodbye. Plus, say the March toward Justice for the Riley Alabama Gang continues.

I should also share the Russians that helped the Riley Gang steal Milton and his friends' money years ago, with Rob Riley's big fraudulent Russian lottery deal, are the same folks that are all tangled into this Trump mess now in San Antonio and London. Their deal with the Russians all started when Milton's Casino competition in Mississippi went after him with Haley Barbour and Bob Riley, both of whom (along with Jeff Sessions) got tangled up with a Russian named Oleg Deripaska, plus the [Paul] and Manafort bunch that Haley was representing -- at same time Barbour was tied to the Mississippi Indian tribes that had Casinos and did not want Milton McGregor competing with them. It is the Alabama Gang, along with Haley and his Russian clients, who came up with with AmCham Russia in Atlanta -- with ties to Felix Sater. And that is the bunch who came up with the Russian lottery deal that stole $40 million from Milton and his friends.
I am sad Milton did not live long enough to see it all come out in the press, but I know someday it will all come out. I am so thankful Milton taught me a thing or two about the national press, which he had dealt with for years as the Gaming King of Alabama. We in the Alabama Resistance will continue, along with others nationally, to make sure the whole ugly Russian story is told .

A visitation for McGregor is set for noon today at Frazer Memorial Church in Montgomery, with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 2 p.m. If you want a seat, our advice is to get there early.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My nephew, Noah Shuler, and his girlfriend seemed anxious to avoid jail and mugshots, and that could be because she's already been down that road with a DUI

Aubrynne Laine Russell

My nephew and his girlfriend, looking at likely drug paraphernalia and speeding charges after a traffic stop in Sparta, Missouri, jumped at an opportunity that would help them avoid a trip to jail for fingerprints and mugshots. That might be partly because the girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell, already has had her mugshot taken -- well before her 20th birthday.

Noah Hayes Shuler, my nephew and the son of my lawyer-brother (David Shuler), faces possession of drug paraphernalia charges under City Code 210.540 and RSMo 579.074, so he's likely to go through the fingerprint, mugshot routine at some point. He already seems familiar enough with it to know it's not pleasant -- especially if you spend time behind bars until someone comes to bail you out. (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.)

[Note: The entry at for City of Sparta v. Noah Hayes Shuler -- Case No. 17-12-1722 -- disappeared on March 8, one day after I contacted my brother, David, via email, seeking comment for this story. The "judge" listed on the case -- Republic, MO, divorce lawyer Andrew Todd Brown -- is listed as one of my brother's Facebook friends. Of course, that might have disappeared, too. A court date had been set for April 12. Why has the once public record in Noah's drug-paraphernalia case vanished? We intend to look into that.]

Perhaps Noah's knowledge of the jail booking process comes from Aubrynne's experience with it. According to the Web site, Aubrynne Laine Russell, was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DUI) last fall in Springfield, Missouri. She was 18 years old at the time.

Russell also was ticketed for speeding (1-5 mph over the limit) on Dec. 20, 2016. She pleaded guilty, and David Shuler represented her. She is charged with speeding (10-15 mph over limit) in the Sparta incident. That makes three charged traffic violations in roughly 15 months' time.

Public records list Aubrynne's address as 1436 N. Glade Ave., Springfield, MO 65802. Her Facebook page says she has attended Greenwood Laboratory School (which Noah also attended) and Missouri State University (which Noah apparently now attends, after starting out last fall at William Jewell College).

The charge in the DUI case was 106-205, and here is the technical description of the offense:

106-205 Driving while intoxicated or driving with unlawful blood alcohol content-SPRINGFIELD

Our unpleasant experiences with law enforcement in southwest Missouri have involved the Greene County Sheriff's Office and its monstrously corrupt chief thug, Jim Arnott. Aubrynne's case came under the Springfield Police Department. From

Aubrynne Laine Russell was arrested on 07 Oct, 2017 in Greene County (Missouri). She is currently 18 years old. Aubrynne Laine Russell was booked by SPRINGFIELD POL.

Here is an oddity about Aubrynne's case. The Web site gives no disposition of the case, and the record does not appear at, which is the electronic repository for case court records. The Missouri State Court Administrator is responsible for maintaining the records, and it's unclear why Aubrynne's DUI case does not appear -- or why Noah's drug-paraphernalia case has disappeared.

TV station KRCG in Columbia/Jefferson City reports that has been improperly used at times to hide public records. Jean Maneke, a Kansas City-based communications lawyers has written that state law allows courts to remove records "for good cause," and that invites chicanery by unscrupulous judges and lawyers.

(To be continued)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Newly obtained photographs show the aftermath of brutality police used against my wife, Carol, during an eviction that was unlawful on 10 grounds or more

Carol's arm begins to show bruising and major swelling, at the elbow.

Fourteen months after my wife was charged with "assault on a law enforcement officer" in Greene County, Missouri, the case still has not been resolved -- even though the officer Carol allegedly pushed admits in a written statement that he initiated physical contact with her, not the other way around. Under Missouri law, that means Carol is not guilty, and there never was probable cause to arrest her in the first place.

So, who really was the assault victim here? We recently obtained photographs that Officer Scott Harrison took at the Cox North emergency room after Carol had been taken to jail following our unlawful eviction on Sept. 9, 2015. Yes, Carol was arrested and taken to jail, even though an officer (still unknown because of prosecutorial stonewalling on discovery) had grabbed her from behind, viciously body slammed her butt-first to the ground, and violently yanked on both arms in an upward and backward motion that broke her left arm in more than two places (comminuted fracture, requiring trauma surgery), leaving her right arm bruised black and blue for its full length.

The pictures were taken after Carol complained of pain in her arm, and a jail nurse ordered that she be taken to Cox North, just a block or two north of the jail. What does it look like in the moments after your arm nearly has been torn off at the elbow? These pictures answer that question -- and they show Carol was the victim of an assault, not the perpetrator of one.

In the top photo, Carol's arm is just beginning to show signs of swelling and bruising. Given the internal damage revealed on X-rays, I'm amazed this first photo does not look much worse.

A lump about the size of a baseball, maybe bigger, is forming

Above, is a photo showing a large lump that is forming at the injury site. Based on our conversations later with the surgeon, I'm guessing it's formed by a combination of swelling, pooling blood, and broken bone pressing against skin.

Severe bruising is starting to show, roughly 90 minutes after injury.

This photo shows severe bruising starting to set in. The time stamp shows the photo was taken at 16:09 (4:09 p.m.), a little less than 90 minutes after injury. By the time Carol was transferred to Cox South, where her arm was placed in a temporary cast to set it for surgery, the arm probably was black and blue from top to bottom. When I saw her the next morning, her right arm was completely black and blue -- and it wasn't broken. "Before they put the temporary cast on, I didn't want to look at my left arm," Carol says. "So I don't remember how bad the bruising was."

What has become of law enforcement in the United States? These photos show the victim of grotesque police brutality, and yet prosecutors charged HER with assault -- even though the officer in question (Capt. Jeremy Lynn) admits in writing that Carol "TRIED to push BACK" after he burst into our home and grabbed her -- nothing more.

What do those words in capital letters tell us? The first one says Carol TRIED to push, but she did not actually manage to do it. That's not a crime, even when it involves precious and apparently soft, baby-like cops. The second says Carol attempted to "push BACK," meaning Lynn had grabbed and pushed her first.

Under Missouri law, the question under the relevant statute is did the defendant "cause physical contact"? Missouri case law has interpreted that to mean did the defendant "initiate physical contact"? The answer to both questions is no; Jeremy Lynn's own words show that.

We've received other evidence that shines light on issues related to Carol's case. We will look at that in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My nephew, Noah Hayes Shuler, and his girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell, jump at the chance to avoid a trip to jail for mugshots and other indignities in Sparta, MO

Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell
My nephew and his girlfriend, looking at likely drug paraphernalia and speeding charges after a traffic stop in Sparta, Missouri, apparently were reluctant to be taken to jail for fingerprints and mugshots. So when a police officer offered them a proposal that would avoid that unpleasantness, they jumped at it -- almost in comical fashion.

Noah Hayes Shuler, the son of my lawyer-brother (David Shuler), already had a pending speeding case where a state trooper clocked him driving 88 mph in a 60 zone -- and that case is set for a hearing on April 6. Noah's girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell, also has a record of traffic-related charges (more on that in upcoming posts); in fact, she's already had her mugshot taken. Perhaps that's why the two of them were reluctant to go before the jailhouse camera. So, when Sparta police officer Loren Nystrom offered them a way out of that, Noah and Aubrynne jumped on it.

The Sparta PD's narrative report for Case No. 17-12-1722 tells the story. (The report, in full, is embedded at the end of this post.) From Officer Nystrom's narrative, with a primary crime/incident listed as Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (City Code 210.540 or RSMo 579.074) against Noah Hayes Shuler, 3825 E. San Poppi Ct., Ozark, MO:

On Saturday, December 30, 2017, around 2015 hours, I stopped a 2013 black Cadillac for speeding, bearing MO license of WM9T8Y at State Highway 14 and [Vanilla Bean].

Upon initial approach, I could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. After checking for warrants through dispatch, I pulled the driver and passenger out of the vehicle. I told them I could smell the odor of marijuana and that I was going to conduct a probable-cause search. I told them if they told me where the items were I would issue citations and allow them to leave the scene, pending a court date. The driver, Aubrynne Russell, asked if she could show me where it was at. I told her if she knew where they were at, she could do so.

As you can see, it didn't take Aubrynne long to react positively to Officer Nystrom's proposal. Noah had the same reaction:

Aubrynne went straight to a couple of boxes and opened them up and provided me with a rubber green colored marijuana pipe, with burnt residue inside it. Also with the pipe were two sandwich bags with a little marijuana residue inside them. I also located a sandwich bags with marijuana residue inside it, located in the glove box. 
I asked Aubrynne who they belong to, and she said her boyfriend, Noah Shuler. . . . At the same time, Noah yelled out, "It's mine." I issued Noah a Sparta Police Department Uniform Citation for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia-Marijuana. I gave him the Sparta Municipal Court date of 02-08-2018 at 1330 hours. I then released both subjects and returned to the Sparta Police Department to place the evidence in the temporary evidence locker. 
Nothing further. 
Officer L. Nystrom 615
Sparta Police Department

The original court date was continued, and hearing now is set for April 12. James Randal Howell II is listed as the prosecuting attorney. Aubrynne Russell is charged with exceeding the posted speed limit by 11-15 mph.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

With insights from Jill Simpson, we predicted Doug Jones would sell out black, female progressive voters, and Josh Moon shows that prediction was on target

We predicted here three months ago -- based on the insights of opposition researcher and whistle blower Jill Simpson -- that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) would sell out the black, female, and progressive voters who put him in office. Josh Moon, of the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), now confirms that prediction was on target.

Moon's scathing report yesterday is particularly significant because the APR columnist has tended to write favorably about Jones -- something neither Simpson nor I ever will be accused of doing. In a post titled "Doug Jones is selling out the people who elected him," Moon not only rips Jones' voting record, but even suggests the junior senator will be a one-termer in D.C. From the Moon column:

It’s time for a reality check for Doug Jones.

You’re not going to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate.

Look, I’d love to think that there’s a chance, even a Lloyd Christmas “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” sort of chance. But there’s not.

You were nearly beaten by a man who was widely loathed in this state BEFORE he was accused of molesting a couple of teens and acting like a creepy uncle with several more. The worst candidate in modern political history nearly beat you because he had the good fortune of having an R beside his name and living in a state filled with people too ignorant to understand that a senator can’t affect abortion law at this point. (And please, spare the mock outrage over the late-term abortion ban bill that Jones voted against. That thing would’ve been declared unconstitutional by the next day by any federal court it landed in.)

So, when Del Marsh or some other Republican who didn’t allegedly molest teen girls lands on the ticket opposite you, you’re toast.

And it’s high time you started acting like it.

And stopped selling out the very people who put you in that office.

To whom does Jones owe his upset victory at the polls over Republican Roy Moore? Moon makes it clear, since Jones doesn't seem to be clear about it:

And it’s high time you started acting like it.

And stopped selling out the very people who put you in that office.

Without record support from the black community in Alabama (Jones’ numbers among black voters rivaled President Obama’s 2008 numbers), there’s zero chance that Jones is sitting in that office in D.C. today.

And without monumental efforts to get progressives out to the polls, ditto.

How has Jones rewarded those groups?

Moon answers that question by ripping Jones a new orifice for his vote, siding with Republicans, to roll back banking regulations:

By voting for a rollback of the Dodd-Frank banking regulations that were put in place to protect regular working folks from losing their 401ks and life savings in another financial crash, like the one that crippled America in 2008. 
Included in the bill rolling back those protections was a particularly nasty, racist bit of language that will allow local banks to go back to the discriminatory lending practices of the past. 
When the Dodd-Frank protections were passed a few years ago, they contained a little-known provision that required banks making mortgage loans to report additional info on borrowers they approved and denied. In addition to race and gender, the banks had to report income, credit scores, employment history and other factors that were considered in making the loans. 
They did this because those banks, when accused of discriminatory lending practices, usually claimed that the denials of minority borrowers were related to those additional factors. 
They weren’t denying black borrowers because they were black, the banks said, but because those black borrowers had lower credit scores, a sketchy employment history or were borrowing for homes in declining neighborhoods.

Well, guess what?

That wasn’t true.

Moon did some research that apparently Doug Jones was too lazy -- or too compromised by his cozy relationship with GOP thugs like Rob Riley -- to do:

A comprehensive report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, using the newly-required reporting info, found that minority applicants were 61 percent more likely to be denied a conventional home mortgage even when factors such as income, credit score and location were considered.

Mobile had the absolute worst score among metro markets, with black applicants 5.6 times less likely to be approved for a loan. In Montgomery, blacks were 3 times more likely to be denied.

Even with regulators watching, and with the possibility of fines and penalties, these banks went right ahead discriminating.

And now, thanks to Jones and 16 other Democrats, they can do it in the dark again.

It’s shameful.

What does that mean in everyday language? Moon spells it out:

No half-conscious person in Alabama doesn’t recognize the ramifications of this. Certainly not someone like Jones. He has to know Alabama’s long history of using discriminatory lending practices — especially at the community bank level — to prevent black families from moving into “breakaway” communities, and thus denying black children the ability to go to better schools. 
In an op-ed that appeared in several Alabama newspapers, Jones defended his decision by saying that he wants to be more bipartisan and work across the aisle. 
That’s a fine sentiment and all, but when the progressive voters of this state put Jones in office, their vision of him pushing bipartisanship was on bills that restored the rights of all people, that protected the least of us, that upheld the belief that all men are created equal. 
Not a bill that ensures documented and provable discrimination will continue and flourish. Not a bill that makes it progressively harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream. Not a bill that makes it easier for big banks to rob the working men and women — again.

Now seems like a good time to revisit Jill Simpson's words from our post dated Dec. 18, 2017:

What a hoot, I have never seen anything like this -- the Karl Rove, Tom Donohue, and Bill Canary Chamber of Commerce types claim they are staying out of the Moore/Jones race, when secretly they have all hands on deck helping Doug Jones. Doug is the Chamber of Commerce candidate in Alabama. Many progressives in Alabama have been viciously mistreated by the chamber, so that will not bode well for Doug. Many progressives have even been investigated by the chamber for working against Republicans, but by golly, the corporate guys are not helping Roy the Republican this time. Right now, it is all out war between Rove Republican elites -- Doug Jones is their guy -- and the Bannon Religious Right/White Republicans, and Roy Moore is their guy from the South and Heartland. . . .

The Rove Republicans behind the scenes are doing everything they can to help Doug Jones, and if he gets elected, he will owe them, just like they owe him for saving Rove from having to testify under oath -- by cooking the deal between the Riley/Sessions crowd and [Eric] Holder.

Jill Simpson predicted it, and Josh Moon has confirmed it: Alabamians might as well have sent Roy Moore to the Senate. His vote would have been the same as Doug Jones's on the Dodd-Frank rollback, which could put our economic security at risk.

Oily Alabama operative Rob Riley admits, in a roundabout way, that GOPers used affidavit to blackmail Judge Mark Fuller in the Siegelman case

Paul Benton Weeks
Conservative operatives in Alabama (and beyond) used an affidavit, which revealed the corrupt acts of the federal judge in the Don Siegelman case, to blackmail the judge into doing their bidding -- ensuring that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy would be wrongfully convicted.

That information about former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, since forced from the bench in the wake of charges that he beat his wife in an Atlanta hotel room, comes from two sources -- Alabama whistle blower and opposition researcher Jill Simpson, plus the author of the affidavit, retired Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks.

The blackmail issue came to the surface following our post earlier this week about the political prosecution Weeks is facing for "securities fraud" in Missouri -- a case that is so dubious it did not, by law, even involve a security, and it was filed some 30 months after the statute of limitations had expired. Under the heading of "adding insult to injury," Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley recently solicited a $50,000 donation (for his U.S. Senate campaign) from Weeks -- even though Hawley is leading the prosecution against Weeks.

Yes sir, wouldn't we all jump at the chance to contribute to the political fraud who is leading a bogus prosecution against us?

Our post apparently riled Simpson and led her to note on Facebook the critical role Weeks played in the Siegelman case, via an affidavit that revealed Judge Mark Fuller never should have been on the case. From Simpson's Facebook post (with mild editing for clarity); as tends to happen, Homewood lawyer and GOP thug Rob Riley appears at the center of any post about Alabama corruption:

As many of you know I think of Paul Weeks as a hero in the Siegelman case. Paul showed up after I testified in D.C. . . . about all Rob Riley had told me about Mark Fuller. At the time Rob shared this information in 2005, I had no idea where he had gotten all of it [and how it was being used against Fuller]. Rob just said, "A friend gave it to me," and it was enough to get Fuller to do exactly what [Rob and his associates] wanted him to do."

In what should be no surprise to anyone, Rob Riley was lying. The information actually came from the Paul Weeks affidavit, which had taken a circuitous route through a major multi-state lawsuit -- winding up with lawyers from the Bradley Arant law firm in Birmingham. (More on that in an upcoming post.) Writes Simpson:

Rob and Bob Riley
Paul Weeks showed up by calling my lawyer at the time, who instructed me not to talk him ( I believe because of Doug Jones connections ), but I did [talk to Paul anyway]  and learned that he had filed an affidavit about Fuller. That was a case against Ray Scott and B.A.S.S., in which Rob and Bob Riley's good buddy, Matt Lembke had been an attorney. Weeks' knowledge of how they were blackmailing Fuller made him a dangerous threat to the Alabama Gang. But we could never get anyone in D.C. to question [Paul], as we were dealing with Rob Riley's buddy, Doug Jones, who was about to make $51 million in a [HealthSouth civil case], with Rob running interference against all of us in D.C.

Simpson notes the blow back Weeks and others have faced for standing up to corruption connected to the Siegelman case:

Each one of us who helped see this story told -- the ones that did not join the Doug Jones bunch -- got either criminally threatened are charged with crazy horseshit, and now it appears to be Weeks they are after. This is a never-ending saga. But all their bullshit is always met with resistance; by this, I mean we show up and out the corruption of this criminal gang. It appears to us that the Alabama Resistance needs to change its name to just Resist. As we now are way beyond Alabama, dealing with their corrupt individuals in other states. As for Paul Weeks, please hold him in your prayers. Can you believe how brazen this Missouri AG is with Paul?

What about our other source, Paul Benton Weeks? He provides insights on Bradley E. Murray, v. Ray W. Scott, the B.A.S.S. case that led to his affidavit -- and shows how his sworn statement about corruption connected to U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller made it into the hands of the right-wing Alabama Gang, which used it (via Bradley Arant lawyer Matt Lembke) to blackmail Fuller and control the Siegelman case.

Scott, by the way, long has been close to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, which might explain how Scott receives favorable rulings in Southeastern courts (Eleventh Circuit: Alabama, Georgia, Florida), which are assigned to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Bush appointee. From Paul Weeks:

Scott was founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society of America (B.A.S.S.) but then later created a deceptively-similar named entity, "B.A.S.S. Inc." that was then used to divert all of the B.A.S.S. membership dues and magazine advertising revenues from B.A.S.S. to B.A.S.S. Inc. 
Legal experts called it a huge fraud and charitable scam because B.A.S.S. was supposed to be a fishermen's organization dedicated to preserving fishing waters and promoting youth fishing programs. Turns out Ray Scott was looting B.A.S.S. of all of the organization's money using B.A.S.S. Inc. as the siphon. When B.A.S.S. members in Kansas filed suit against Scott to get their organization and magazine back, Scott hired,  among others, Matt Lembke's firm (Bradley Arant). 
So Lembke was one of the very first lawyers to get a copy of my Fuller affidavit when I submitted it in the summer of 2003. Lembke then shared all of the dirt on Fuller with his political allies, the Rileys. They then used that dirt on Fuller to blackmail Fuller to "get" Siegelman.

The dirt on Mark Fuller did not just land on Matt Lembke's plate. It went much higher up the food chain than that, again with profound consequences for the Don Siegelman case. From Weeks:

Not only did Lembke and the Rileys have the dirt on Fuller via my affidavit, but I originally sent a copy of that Fuller affidavit to the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section (PIN), which then enabled the PIN to lord it over Fuller during the prosecution and trial of Siegelman. Fuller would have definitely felt pressure (not to mention gratitude) for the DOJ not coming after him for what was in my Fuller affidavit.

So it's fair to say that my Fuller affidavit allowed the Rileys and Karl Rove and the DOJ to "own" and control Fuller in the mission to "get" Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The story does not end there -- far from it. Paul Weeks has many more insights on the blackmailing of federal judge Mark Fuller. We will have that in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My nephew, Noah Hayes Shuler, faces possession of drug paraphernalia charge after he and his girlfriend were stopped for speeding in rural Sparta, Missouri

Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell
Noah Hayes Shuler, my nephew and the son of my lawyer-brother (David Shuler), faces a possession of drug paraphernalia charge in Christian County, Missouri. This is the same nephew who already has a pending speeding charge for driving 88 mph in a 60 zone.

The criminal setting in the speeding case is April 6. David Shuler is his son's attorney in that case, and he entered a plea of not guilty on Jan. 17. But they could not make it to the next hearing date before Noah was in trouble again. (Incident report is embedded at the end of this post.)

What happened? At about 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2017, Noah was a passenger in a 2013 black Cadillac driven by his girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell. A police officer in Sparta, Missouri (pop. 1,864) stopped them for speeding, and as he approached the vehicle, immediately noticed the odor of marijuana.

The officer ordered Noah and his girlfriend out of the vehicle and told them he was going to conduct a probable-cause search. An inspection of the vehicle produced the following items:

(1) A rubber pipe, with a glass bowl, including marijuana residue. It was found in a box in the back passenger seat;

(2) Two clear sandwich bags containing marijuana residue. They were found in a box in the back passenger seat;

(3) One sandwich bag with marijuana residue. It was found in the glove box.

A property report from the vehicle stop lists the owner of all four items as Noah Hayes Shuler, with an address of 3825 E. San Poppi Court in Ozark, MO 65721. That's where my brother's family of four lives.

Springfield attorney Russell Dempsey represents both Noah and Ms. Russell in the drug paraphernalia/speeding case.

Noah entered William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, in fall 2017 and played on the soccer team -- although his playing time as a freshman was limited to four minutes in one game. Noah's Facebook page recently indicated he now is enrolled at Missouri State University in his hometown of Springfield -- although that information has disappeared from the page.

Did he get kicked out of William Jewell? Did he leave because of his sparse playing time on the soccer team? Did he just want to get back home and attend the same school as his girlfriend?

We sought comment from David Shuler for this post, including several specific questions, but he provided no substantive response.

I know this for sure: I grew up in what used to be a law-abiding family, but something must have changed in the 36 years I lived in Birmingham, AL. Carol and I each have been arrested -- and I even spent five months in the Shelby County Jail as the only incarcerated journalist in the western hemisphere for 2013 -- but none of those arrests were legitimate. They were trumped up as a form of intimidation for my reporting on this blog.

Noah, on the other hand, appears to be facing charges that are legitimate. He might be found not guilty on one or both, but the arrests appear to at least be based on probable cause.

It seems safe to say that he's the first member of our family to ever face two criminal charges at the same time -- certainly in my lifetime. I'm not sure how you even manage to accomplish that -- especially when your father is a lawyer, you've gone to private schools (Greenwood Laboratory School), and you've grown up in luxury (a house in a golf-course community, with an appraised value of $621,300).

So, how did Noah manage to accumulate two criminal charges -- with both cases pending -- well before completing his freshman year of college?

We will examine that and other issues in upcoming posts.

(To be continued)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Luther Strange's filthy fingerprints appear to be all over the Birmingham Superfund scandal -- plus an attempted financial hit on lawyer Burt Newsome

Luther Strange and former Balch lawyer Jessica Garrison
New evidence suggests former Alabama attorney general and U.S. Sen. Luther Strange was involved in a criminal conspiracy to help the large Balch Bingham law firm obtain the bank-collections business of a solo attorney in the Birmingham area, according to (See here and here.) Not surprisingly, Strange's one-time campaign manager and mistress, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, is involved in this sordid story.

Burt Newsome has built his collections practice into a lucrative enterprise, so lucrative that Balch Bingham apparently tried to steal it -- with help from Luther Strange. Newsome was hit with a sham criminal charge -- where have we heard this before? -- and evidence indicates Strange tried to make it stick.

This all grows from an report last week that Strange (and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions) pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to designate the North Birmingham Superfund site for National Priorities List (NPL) status, which would have required polluters (Drummond Co. and others) to pay millions in clean-up costs.

As for Sessions, a report at Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) features documents that show Sessions' office was deeply involved in trying to thwart the clean-up effort. From an article at Mother Jones:

As Alabama’s junior senator, Jeff Sessions was far more involved than previously known in helping two of his top contributors derail a federal environmental cleanup effort, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight. The stalled cleanup is now at the center of a federal bribery case spearheaded by the Justice Department, posing a serious conflict of interest for Sessions, who is now attorney general. Yet there is no indication that Sessions has taken any steps to recuse himself from this matter.

Last fall, the Justice Department indicted a top executive at Drummond Coal and two partners in the influential Birmingham-based law firm of Balch Bingham, who were representing the Alabama-based company. Prosecutors allege the men paid off an Alabama state representative, Democrat Oliver Robinson, as they undertook an all-out effort to block an environmental remediation effort in an impoverished, largely African American neighborhood of North Birmingham, known as 35th Avenue. Robinson, who pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy, and fraud, admitted signing his name to letters opposing the cleanup that were ghostwritten by the Balch Bingham attorneys and to surreptitiously recording meetings with Environmental Protection Agency officials.

Speaking of indicted Balch partners (Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney) and ghostwritten letters, that's where Luther Strange enters the picture. In a post titled "Luther Strange Coordinated with Indicted Balch Partners," reports:

We always suspected they were in cahoots.

Former State Attorney General and ex-U.S. Senator Luther Strange appears to be—unequivocally—the biggest stooge for Balch Bingham, the once prestigious, silk-stocking law firm.

Besides ghostwriting for their alleged bought-and-paid-for-politicians, Balch appears to have directly coordinated with state agencies.

How close was the coordination? spells it out:

On Oct. 23, 2014, Strange sent a formal letter to the EPA, calling the NPL listing "premature" and "futile." It has been pointed out before, this letter followed less than a week after Drummond Co. contributed $25,000 to Strange's reelection campaign, and Drummond was Strange's third largest donor in that election cycle.

What hasn't been evident before was how closely Strange's office and the Balch lawyers Gilbert and McKinney were working together.

When Strange's administrative assistant emailed the letter to the EPA, she blind carbon copied three lawyers in the Alabama Attorney General's office -- and Gilbert at Balch.

Essentially, Strange's office was letting Gilbert read their correspondence with the EPA without the EPA knowing Gilbert could see it.

And the Attorney General's office's coordination with Gilbert didn't stop there. Additional emails show that Robert Tambling, the chief of the environmental section, followed up on Nov. 4, 2014, after the EPA apparently failed to respond to Strange's first letter.

Tambling immediately forwarded a copy of his email to the EPA to Gilbert at Balch, writing to him, "Joel, Hope this helps. RT"

A few minutes later, Gilbert wrote back, "Can't hurt ... Thanks."

The Strange-Balch coordination apparently went well beyond the Superfund matter, as reports:

Now a can of worms has opened up, especially in relationship to Balch’s and Luther Strange’s involvement in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Did Balch in any way coordinate with the State Attorney General in 2016 to file a “cut and paste” brief in support of the resurrection of the bogus criminal case against Burt Newsome that had been expunged?

A public records request should be headed soon to the Office of the Attorney General.

A post dated Sept. 18, 2017, provides more details on Strange's ties to the Newsome case:

We have reached out to federal authorities and have asked them to investigate U.S. Senator Luther Strange’s involvement in alleged corruption and the trampling of the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by one of Strange’s most ardent financial and political supporters, the embattled law firm Balch Bingham.

Burt Newsome
Strange has received tens of thousands of dollars from Balch Bingham or political action committees funded by Balch Bingham partners. Strange’s top political advisor and former campaign manager, Jessica Garrison, was “of counsel” at Balch until this past spring, a known revolving-door for political operatives.
What revolts us most is as Alabama Attorney General, Strange gave a helping-hand—just a year ago—to an alleged criminal conspiracy that trampled the Civil Rights of Burt Newsome, a father of four young children who was railroaded with a capital R.

According to court filings, Newsome, a small-town attorney in Alabama, was falsely arrested and defamed by the alleged co-conspirators including Balch Bingham which allegedly had a financial objective: to obtain Newsome’s lucrative banking collections business.

In April of 2014, the criminal case against Newsome collapsed and was eventually expunged from court records. But almost a year later after the expungement, in June of 2016, another judge, with allegedly no knowledge of the details of the case, reversed the expungement and opened the contents of a case that no longer existed, declaring that the previous judge (since retired) had erred.

Incredibly, Newsome was allegedly barred by court officials from filing a brief or petitioning the court at that time.

Raising eyebrows and expanding the web of possible collusion, two months later, in August of 2016, then-Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief in support of the resurrected expungement, citing and regurgitating the order signed by the new judge.

Observers could not understand why his office would ever get involved in a matter like this, especially since the brief looked like a simple “cut and paste job.” The reason was Balch Bingham and other co-conspirators wanted to use the false criminal accusations in a civil case that the co-conspirators looked like they were losing against Newsome.

Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley seeks $50,000 donation from retired lawyer Paul Benton Weeks, whom Hawley's AG office is prosecuting

Paul Benton Weeks
A U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri sought a $50,000 donation from a retired lawyer he is prosecuting as state attorney general.

Josh Hawley, a Republican, is set to face incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in one of the most-watched Senate campaigns of 2018. For now, Hawley is Missouri AG, and he recently solicited a $50,000 donation (via email) for his Senate campaign from Paul Benton Weeks, of Springfield, Missouri.

Weeks was invited to attend a fundraising reception, featuring Hawley and President Donald Trump, in St. Louis on March 14. The invitation, sent to Weeks' email address at, stated that Weeks could be part of the Host Committee Roundtable for a donation of $50,000 per person. (Invitation is embedded at the end of this post.)

Why should this raise eyebrows? Hawley's AG office is prosecuting Weeks on a dubious charge of securities fraud -- but now Hawley wants the defendant to fork over $50,000 to a Senate campaign. We've written a series of posts titled "The Political Prosecution of Paul Benton Weeks" (see here and here) and we thought the case could not get more smelly. But the Hawley solicitation adds a whole new layer of corruption, incompetence, or both.

Weeks lays it out in a supplemental motion to have the AG's office disqualified from his case. (Motion is embedded at the end of this post.)

Legal Schnauzer readers probably know Paul Benton Weeks best as the Missouri lawyer who wrote a scathing affidavit about U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, the wildly conflicted judge in the Don Siegelman case. Fuller, of course, eventually was forced from the bench in the wake of charges that he had beaten his wife in an Atlanta hotel room. That was no surprise to many because Weeks, via his affidavit, had already unmasked Fuller as a morally bankrupt fraud, who had no place on the federal bench -- much less overseeing the Siegelman case.

Evidence strongly suggests the "securities fraud" prosecution is payback for Weeks' willingness to research and report unflattering facts about a sitting federal judge. It certainly is not a legitimate securities-fraud case, as we explained in a November 2017 post:

As an initial matter, you would expect a "securities fraud" case to involve a "security." But, in Missouri, you would be wrong -- especially if your name is Paul Weeks and you've made it a habit to shine light on government and court-related abuses. Investopedia describes a security as follows:

"A security is a fungible, negotiable financial instrument that holds some type of monetary value. It represents an ownership position in a publicly-traded corporation (via stock), a creditor relationship with a governmental body or a corporation (represented by owning that entity's bond), or rights to ownership as represented by an option."

Was there anything with the transaction in question that fits that description? Did it involve a stock, bond, or option? Not even close.

The securities case grew from a private-loan transaction between Weeks and a personal acquaintance, with Weeks borrowing $200,000 and delivering a personal promissory note to the lender. When Congress enacted the federal securities laws in the 1930s, lawmakers made it expressly clear that personal and commercial promissory notes were not securities. The oddities with the "securities" case do not stop there:

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for alleged "securities fraud" is three years. The charge against Weeks is based on a private loan transaction that occurred in August 2009. Therefore, simple math would indicate that the statute of limitations in the Weeks case expired in August 2012, At that point, a Missouri prosecutor is required by . . . law, not to commence a prosecution barred by the statute of limitations. . . .

But [Chris] Koster and the Missouri Attorney General's Office filed their untimely prosecution against Weeks anyway. These Missouri officials commenced their prosecution against Weeks on Dec. 24, 2014 -- some 30 months after the three-year statute of limitations had already run.

Gee, the case was brought when it was stale by only 30 months? No wonder it smells bad. And now we have Hawley's solicitation email adding to the putrid mix. Here is how Weeks sets the stage, from his supplemental motion (citations omitted):

The Missouri Attorney General is Josh Hawley, who is now running for the United States Senate. Recent news reports confirm that Hawley faces substantial pressure, from powerful people within his own political party, to raise more campaign cash.

On Monday, February 26, 2018, Josh Hawley sent an email to Defendant Paul Weeks from an email address identified as “”.  In that email, Hawley stated it was his “honor” to invite Weeks to attend an “evening reception with President Donald J. Trump." Hawley stated to Weeks that “I hope you can join me and Erin [Hawley’s wife] for this special event.” Hawley’s email to Weeks described the event as a “fundraising reception, benefiting our campaign.” Hawley’s email also stated that if Weeks paid $50,000 to Hawley’s fundraising group, Weeks would be an “attendee” of the “Host Committee Roundtable” — suggesting that for $50,000, a cash donor would obtain special access to Hawley and perhaps a quick photo with Hawley and/or Trump.

How serious could this get? Weeks spells it out:

There is absolutely no excuse for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s direct and personal solicitation seeking substantial money from a citizen that Hawley and his state office are currently prosecuting and threatening to throw into prison. No excuse whatsoever.
Josh Hawley
For decades, it has been widely understood that prosecutors, running for elective office, should follow certain procedures to ensure that no solicitations are made to persons who are being investigated or prosecuted by that same prosecutor or his or her office.
This elementary procedure requires that a prosecutor's office access its files or database in order to identify all persons currently being investigated or prosecuted by that prosecutor’s office. The names and contact information of all such persons must then be cross-checked with the campaign mailing lists to ensure that no person who is being investigated or prosecuted is included on any campaign list used to solicit funds for the prosecutor.

Ethical standards for prosecutors should be particularly stringent:

In addition, campaign experts have observed that because prosecutors have the absolute discretionary power to destroy citizens’ lives, prosecutors who run for public office should not personally solicit money from anyone — out of concern that solicitations for money by prosecutors are inherently coercive and could cause people to fear the consequences if they do not make a contribution to the prosecutor. To avoid an apparent conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety, many legal ethicists and campaign experts have urged that candidates closely tied to the judicial process, including prosecutors, should not personally solicit campaign contributions.

That, however, is exactly what Josh Hawley did, and he sought the hefty contribution from an individual he is prosecuting. It all suggests the Hawley campaign is too harried and rattled to worry about ethical concerns, too incompetent to check records for individuals it should or should not solicit, or is knowingly acting like a criminal enterprise. From Weeks' motion:

A prosecutor who solicits money from a criminal defendant invites and encourages the defendant to make a “campaign contribution” that could be perceived to be in fact a bribe or, at minimum, appear to be a bribe. 
Indeed, many states have enacted criminal statutes that make it a crime for a public official to solicit anyone who is subject to any current government action, regulatory matter, or prosecution.

Weeks shows how the Hawley campaign might have committed criminal acts, under Missouri law:

In this case, several Missouri criminal statutes were possibly implicated by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s solicitation of money from a defendant who Hawley and his office are currently prosecuting and threatening with prison. For starters, a “stealing" crime in Missouri includes an attempt to coerce property from another person. In this case, Josh Hawley’s direct and personal solicitation to Weeks could plainly be perceived as an attempt to strong-arm and coerce Defendant Weeks into paying Hawley and his group up to $50,000 which, if so, would clearly constitute attempted felony “stealing” under Missouri law.

Missouri law also makes it a crime for a public servant to solicit any benefit in return for a decision or exercise of discretion favorable to the person solicited. In Missouri, the crime is known and described as “acceding to corruption” — which, in plain English, means a crime in which a public servant solicits or requests that another person pay that public servant for a favorable government decision.

These words are not just theoretical in nature. Such prosecutor-bribe cases actually have happened:

Several prosecutors have committed crimes by soliciting political contributions that were, in effect, bribes. In those cases, prosecutors solicited and collected political contributions in exchange for deciding cases in a manner favorable to a criminal defendant. For example, one prosecutor was convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for prosecutorial leniency, with some of those bribes being campaign contributions. Press Release, FBI, Former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villallobos Sentenced to Federal Prison in Connection with South Texas Bribery Scheme (Feb. 11, 2014). Another prosecutor was convicted and disbarred for receiving a campaign contribution in exchange for supporting the early release of a convicted murderer. T. Evans, Document Reveals How Bribery of Former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser Unfolded, CHILLICOTHE GAZETTE (Nov. 1, 2013). Finally, a New Jersey prosecutor was convicted and sent to prison for soliciting money from criminal defendants in exchange for a reduction or dismissal of the prosecutor’s charge. M. Conte, Former Fill-In Prosecutor In Bayonne, Secaucus Pleads Guilty To Bribery, THE JERSEY JOURNAL (Nov. 10, 2012).

What do Hawley's actions say about the integrity of the Missouri justice system? It isn't pretty:

All officers of the court – prosecutors in particular – must adhere to the highest standards of integrity. In view of AG Hawley’s solicitation of a cash ‘contribution’ from Defendant Weeks, it would be hard to imagine a more serious and egregious violation of Rule 4-8.4 (d). Anyone who doubts that assertion should simply imagine what the public would think if it learned that a state attorney general, in Missouri, had solicited up to $50,000 from a criminal defendant who that same state prosecutor and his office were prosecuting and threatening to throw into prison. Mindful of that objective fact, it is hard to imagine conduct by a prosecuting attorney that could be more damaging to the “integrity” of Missouri’s judicial system or the public’s confidence in the administration of justice in Missouri. If the public knew what AG Hawley solicited a big cash contribution from a defendant who prosecutor Hawley was prosecuting, and threatening with prison, the public would have absolutely zero confidence in the legal or judicial system in Missouri. Zero, zilch, nada.

Likewise, a prosecuting attorney has a sacred obligation to avoid any conduct that would create an appearance of impropriety. It ought to go without saying that a prosecutor who solicits a cash “contribution” from a criminal defendant who the prosecutor is prosecuting has created a shocking appearance of impropriety which, by any ethical standard, would be viewed as conduct by a prosecuting official that was “over the top” and completely improper.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Alabama sheriff who pocketed inmate food funds and bought beach house was appointed by (surprise!) Bob Riley and designated a "rising Republican star"

Todd Entrekin
An Alabama sheriff who pocketed $750,000 in inmate food funds and bought a $740,000 beach house was appointed to his position in 2007 by former Gov. Bob Riley. That should come as no surprise, given the Riley family's penchant for self-enrichment.

Todd Entrekin, Etowah County sheriff, has become a national punchline as the mainstream press has picked up on his outrageously greedy scheme. This is the same Entrekin whom the Alabama Republic Party, in 2013, named a "rising Republican star." From the ALGOP press release:

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin is this week’s Rising Republican Star. Sheriff Entrekin has brought a wealth of experience and a vision to the Sheriff’s office of Etowah County. He became Sheriff of Etowah in 2007, when Governor Bob Riley appointed him after the passing of Sheriff James Hayes, but Todd’s career in law enforcement began long before that. . . .

Since his appointment in 2007, Sheriff Entrekin set several benchmarks for the department to reach and all of those benchmarks have already been accomplished.

It sounds like Entrekin's No. 1 benchmark was to line his own pockets -- and he certainly has accomplished that. In perhaps the finest piece of journalism to come from in the 2000s, Connor Sheets reports:

In September, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife Karen purchased an orange four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach for $740,000.

To finance the purchase, Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, according to public real estate records. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that the couple own together or separately in Etowah and Baldwin counties.

Some Etowah County residents question how a county sheriff making a five-figure annual salary can afford to own multiple houses, including one worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

But ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional "compensation" from a source he identified as "Food Provisions."

Entrekin did not deny that he received the money when asked about it via email last week. Ethics forms he filed in previous years do not list any income from such a source.

To prove he does not lack for audacity, Entrekin actually tried to defend his actions -- seemingly drawing even more attention from the national press. Consider this, from Fox News:

Entrekin like other Alabama sheriffs believe a pre-World War II state law allows them to keep any “excess inmate-feeding funds” for themselves. However, in counties such as Jefferson and Montgomery, any excess money is supposed to be given to the county government.

In forms filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission, Entrekin reported he made “more than $250,000 each of the past three years via the inmate-feeding funds.”

Radley Balko, at The Washington Post, wrote about the scheme with a sense of disbelief, given that Entrekin has an annual salary of $92,000:

[Entrekin's] response when contacted for the story is priceless:

“As you should be aware, Alabama law is clear as to my personal financial responsibilities in the feeding of inmates. Regardless of one’s opinion of this statute, until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”

So he had no choice, you see. He didn’t want to do it, but his hands were tied! He was bound by law to use funds designated for inmate meals to purchase beach homes for he and his wife. Just part of the sacrifice one makes for a career in public service.

The New York Daily News, referring to Entrekin as a "leech," focused on the political opposition that Entrekin's sticky fingers are attracting:

"I believe the funds belong to the taxpayers and any excess funds should go toward things that benefit the taxpayer," said Rainbow City Police Chief Jonathon Horton.

A former member of the Etowah County Sheriff's Office, Horton is running against Entrekin in this year's race for sheriff.

Said Horton, "There's been a tremendous amount of money left over that shouldn't be used as a bonus check."

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum reports that "Alabama sheriffs are living large":

Let’s tear our gaze away from the swamp in Washington DC and check in on the swamp of Etowah County in Alabama. Todd Entrekin, the sheriff there, just bought a vacation home for $740,000, bringing his total real estate empire to $1.7 million. Where did the money come from?

Ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional “compensation” from a source he identified as “Food Provisions.”

Fascinating. Can you tell us more . . . ?

Entrekin told last month that he has a personal account that he refers to as his “Food Provision” fund. And Etowah County resident Matthew Qualls said that in 2015 Entrekin paid him to mow his lawn via checks with the words “Sheriff Todd Entrekin Food Provision Account” printed in the upper-left corner. viewed a photograph of one such check.

Drum seemed just a tad incredulous at all of this:

Apparently the state of Alabama makes the sheriff personally responsible for everything related to food in the jails he operates. They give him a lump sum, and he gets to keep anything left over. You know, sort of a good ol’ boy slush fund that’s managed to survive all the way into the 21st century.

But as much as I’d like to be outraged, this kind of penny-ante corruption is actually sort of soothing compared to what’s happening in DC. It just goes to show that when rural folks complain that “the America I know” is slipping away, they’re not seeing the whole picture. In Alabama, at least, it’s still going strong.