Monday, August 24, 2020

Mounting evidence suggests former U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, who resigned under odd circumstances in July, was involved in scheme to steal clients and ruin the practice of Birmingham lawyer Burt Newsome

Jay Town
A Birmingham attorney, who says Alabama Power and the Balch Bingham law firm conspired to frame him for a crime in order to steal some of his clients, is asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a criminal investigation of former U.S. Attorney (USA) Jay E. Town for his alleged role in the scheme.

Burt Newsome states that Town resigned as USA for the Northern District of Alabama but says the matter should not end there. Newsome wants the DOJ to investigate if Town engaged in criminal conduct and asks three DOJ officials to help launch a probe. Town abruptly resigned on a Friday afternoon, one month after Newsome dispatched a letter to the DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG), asking it to investigate Town for the following: blocking an investigation into Alabama Power’s payments to Rodger and Carol Smitherman while Carole Smitherman was presiding over the Newsome case; blocking an investigation into the cop son of an Alabama Power executive being involved in Newsome's false arrest; blocking an investigation into why the defense in the [David] Roberson case was banned from mentioning Alabama Power during Roberson’s criminal trial; and then, when Newsome asked the Montgomery FBI to investigate all of this, since Town was blocking the Birmingham FBI, Town blocked the Montgomery FBI from looking into any of this, as well.

Newsome points to evidence that Town was involved in a fraudulent deposition of a Verizon employee named "Jason Forman," who apparently proved to be an imposter. How strange was the Verizon deposition? We addressed that in a post dated 3/2/20:

Did Birmingham law firm Balch Bingham combine with Verizon Wireless to orchestrate a bogus deposition in a lawsuit over the alleged attempted theft of solo practitioner Burt Newsome's lucrative collections practice?

Thanks to top-notch original reporting from K.B. Forbes, publisher of the Web site, we have already pointed to peculiar circumstances surrounding the video deposition -- supposedly of a Verizon records custodian named Jason Forman -- that suggest the answer is yes. In fact, there is reason to wonder if the deponent really was named Jason Forman and if he even worked for Verizon. Forbes suggested in a recent post that "Forman" was an actor and noted examples from the past where Alabama utility companies and their associates have resorted to such skulduggery.

How would parties in a lawsuit even attempt to pull off such a hoax? In this instance. the parties were communicating electronically across roughly 900 miles, with some in Birmingham, AL, and others near Verizon headquarters in Bedminster, NJ., and that likely enhanced the opportunities for subterfuge that might not be present in an old-fashioned, face-to-face deposition. Why would someone attempt such a stunt? Newsome's legal team had discovered that alleged conspirators connected to Balch had used an Alabama-based phone number -- (205) 410-1494 -- to communicate , likely via prepaid "burner" phones, about the scheme to steal Newsome's practice. The hoax apparently was designed to keep Newsome from gaining access to communications among those who were trying to ruin him professionally.

Did the "Jason Forman" deposition follow normal procedure? Not exactly:

Another oddity: At the beginning of the deposition, Forman had no attorney present to represent him and object, if necessary to certain questions. The normal process, as I understand it, is to have an attorney present, who can object to questions and then usually instruct the deponent to answer the question, even if it is found later to be inadmissible at trial. If the dispute is particularly serious, the deposition can be interrupted, with the issue taken to a judge for resolution. But my understanding is that parties usually are encouraged not to let discovery disputes get that far.

That's why deponents generally answer questions, over their own attorney's objections, with admissibility and other issues to be resolved later. In this instance, with no attorney present for Verizon at the beginning, "Jason Forman" (a non-lawyer) essentially made his own objections and steadfastly refused to answer certain questions, especially if they could lead to personal identifiers.

"Jason Forman" refused to provide the most basic personal information, as seen from this section of the deposition transcript:

Burt Newsome (BN): State your full legal name, for the record.

Jason Forman (JF): Jason Forman, F-O-R-M-A-N.

BN: Do you have a middle name, sir?

JF: Yes, Eric, E-R-I-C.

BN: So Jason Eric Forman?

JF: Correct.

BN: Okay. And what's your home address?

JF: I'm not giving you that.

BN: Well, I mean you're under oath here.

JF: There's no reason for you to have where I live, sir.

BN: This is important stuff.

JF: There's no reason for you to have where I live, sir. You can have my office address, which is 180 Washington Valley Road. . . .

BN: What's your home phone number?

JF: I'm not giving you that, either. I can give you our office number . . .

BN: What's your Social Security number?

JF: I'm not giving you that, either.

BN: Okay . . . Let the record reflect he's refusing to answer questions as well, which is another reason that I object to this deposition. . . . And what's your educational background?

JF: I have a degree in criminal justice.

BN: And where did you get that from, sir?

JF: I'm -- you're asking a whole lot of personal information, and it's not relevant to what we're doing here. I'm here to testify to records. I'm not giving you my resume. It's unnecessary.

BN: Your technical background is relevant to the case and to what you're testifying about.

JF: I have been -- I have been a custodian of records for Verizon Wireless since 2003.

BN: Where did you get your degree from, sir?

JF: I'm not answering any more personal questions. If you have records about the case. If you have questions about my office. I'll be happy to answer them. I'm not here to answer personal questions about my personal background. I'm not an expert witness in that capacity.

Was "Jason Forman" stonewalling? Well, he ultimately testified, seemingly based on no technical expertise, that the (205) number was a router switch, not a phone number. Was that an attempt to put the burner-phone issue to rest? Apparently so.

For good measure, photographic evidence indicates the deponent, and the Jason Forman who actually works for Verizon, are not the same person.

Who just happens to have real ties to Verizon? That would be Jay Town, who is a member of the New Jersey Bar. From a report at

We, the CDLU, have questioned the legitimacy of the deposition. Was it a real or staged event? Highly unusual, the deposition with Verizon did not take place at their large corporate campus.

Instead, this deposition supposedly took place at a Regus Center (a rent by the hour office space facility) in Bedminster, New Jersey less than 10 miles from Verizon’s Corporate Headquarters located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

And what law firm represents Verizon regularly? McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and  Carpenter in Morristown, New Jersey, just one mile away from Verizon’s Corporate Headquarters.

And who worked for McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and Carpenter before his career as a prosecutor?

Jay E. Town

Pulling in all their weight to crush Newsome, we suspect Balch (and/or their sister-wife Alabama Power) appears to have reached out to Town for his assistance in July of 2017, a tour de force.

How far do Town's tentacles reach? A published report suggests they reach Calera, Alabama, as does the fishy router-switch story. Per a 2/25/20 post from, a Shelby County attorney named
Robert Ronnlund, whose wife Millicent Ronnlund is an attorney with Balch Bingham, filed an unsworn Calera Police Department affidavit with the narrative that the (205) 410-1494 number was not a phone number but a “routing switch.” My, that story travels far and fast. How could that happen? Consider this from a report about Town's resignation at

“Jay Town changed the culture for law enforcement (in the Northern District of Alabama),‘' said Calera Police Chief Dave Hyche, who formerly worked alongside Town as an ATF supervisor. “Aggressive prosecution of violent offenders has to continue.”

“There is no doubt that the violent crime rates would be exponentially higher without aggressive federal prosecution,‘' Hyche said. “His shoes will be hard to fill.”

So, Jay Town has friends and admirers in the Calera PD, which just happened to file an unsworn (and apparently false) affidavit re: the burner-phone issue in the Newsome case.

Does anyone see a disturbing pattern here? Burt Newsome does -- including evidence that, on four separate occasions, Town blocked the FBI from investigating his case, Newsome claims Town's hasty resignation and exit from Birmingham were designed to stave off a full investigation. He asks the DOJ officials to make sure the matter receives a full criminal review.

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