Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments in Montgomery this morning in the appeal of prominent Alabama legal and business figure Donald Watkins

Donald Watkins

A panel of appellate judges will hear oral arguments in Montgomery this morning in the criminal case of longtime Alabama attorney, banker, and entrepreneur Donald Watkins. The hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m. at the Frank M. Johnson Jr. Federal Courthouse in downtown Montgomery. It is expected to last about one hour and is open to the public. Watkins wrote about the appeal recently at his Web site. Long known for his outspoken manner, Watkins does not mince words on this occasion:

Three years ago, I was railroaded and convicted in a U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Alabama (USA) on trumped up wire, mail, and bank fraud charges. On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, a three-judge panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is scheduled to hear the appeal in my case.

The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. CST at the Frank M. Johnson, Jr., Federal Courthouse in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. It is open to the public.

[Click here to read the Watkins Opening Brief, the Government's Responsive Brief, and the Watkins Reply Brief in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.]

USA v. Donald V. Watkins, Sr., and Donald V. Watkins, Jr., is the first case listed on the Court's docket for April 26th. The Court will hear legal arguments from attorneys representing my son, Donald V. Watkins, Jr., and and me, as well as the Government. The arguments are expected to last one hour.

I am represented in the appeal by Montgomery, Alabama, attorney, Mark Englehart, who is a true friend and remarkable human being. Attorney Englehart sat by my side thronughout my entire three-week trial in 2019. He has one of the best legal minds in the nation and is a brilliant appellate lawyer.

Watkins provides a summary of the difficult path he and his son have followed since their convictions:

Donald, Jr., was found "Not Guilty" of bank fraud charges, but "Guilty" of a conspiracy charge to commit wire and mail fraud. He was sentenced to 27 months in a prison camp and was released last year.

I received 60 months in prison. I was denied an appeal bond by U.S. District Court Judge Karon O. Bowdre and entered prison on August 28, 2019.

On April 14, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) executed an agreement to transfer me to home confinement, but this transfer was blocked by Birmingham federal prosecutor Lloyd Peeples. Peeples feverishly lobbied the FCI Talladega Warden, the BOP's Central Office in Washington, and the U.S. Probation Office in Birmingham to oppose my release to home confinement.

On November 3, 2020, Judge Bowdre denied a motion filed on my behalf for a compassionate release based upon my age (71 at the time) and pre-existing health conditions that exposed me to the highest risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Thereafter, the BOP deliberately placed me in prison cells with federal inmates who were unvaccinated and who were diagnosed with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The BOP also entrusted my daily care to convicted gang leaders and murderers for more than three months at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, even though my extremely low custody classification score prohibited my exposure to violent prisoners.

USP Atlanta was closed in July of 2021 due to widespread graft and corruption among the staff and inmate population. Convicted gang leaders literally ran the prison. The prison's 1,800 inmates were transferred to other BOP prison facilities.

I am presently incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp at La Tuna in Anthony, New Mexico. By the time the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decides my case, I will likely be released from prison.

As one might expect, Watkins does not hold cheery thoughts toward those responsible for the prosecution. Also, he touches on what appears to be a brewing scandal connected to the North Birmingham Superfund bribery case:

The singular goal of the Birmingham federal prosecutors was to imprison me, by any and all means necessary, whether I was innocent of the charges against me, or not. My son was taken as a hostage, with a proverbial gun to his head, in order to pressure me into pleading guilty. Both of us fought the bogus criminal charges because we were innocent.

The allegations of wire and mail fraud in my case were first reviewed and evaluated by top-flight career prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey in 2015 and 2016, who found no wrongdoing on my part. The lead prosecutor in New Jersey congratulated me for my achievements in the international energy business.

In October 2017, the Birmingham U.S. Attorney's Office, under the supervision of Jay Town and Lloyd Peeples, asked Atlanta-based U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials, who had a substantial conflict of interest in the case, to give them a shot at the case. The SEC obliged them.

Jay Town is a small-time Republican political hack in Huntsville, Alabama. He was recommended as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) after Donald Trump became president. In July of 2017, Trump appointed Town to the job.

Town qualified for the U.S. Attorney's job because: (a) he was featured in a TV campaign ad attacking President Barack Obama that Sen. Shelby ran during his 2016 re-election campaign, and (b) he enjoys the "white male privilege" that is often accorded to inadequate white male political operatives in Alabama.

Prior to his appointment as U.S. Attorney, Jay Town was an obscure assistant district attorney in Madison County, Alabama, with a lackluster record as a state prosecutor.

Town resigned abruptly as U.S. Attorney in late 2020 after media organizations began looking into allegations that he "fixed" the outcome of a criminal investigation into a bribery scheme that paid more than $360,000 to state Rep. Oliver Robinson from a sham non-profit organization named the "Alliance for Jobs and the Economy" (AJE).

AJE was funded by Alabama Power Company, the Drummond Company, and their business alliance partners. Oliver Robinson was paid this laundered money to derail an initiative by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate a black neighborhood in North Birmingham as an EPA Super-Fund cleanup site. 
This money-laundering and bribery scheme was structured and overseen by the Balch Bingham law firm in Birmingham, which represents Alabama Power Company. Prior to becoming the CEO at Alabama Power Company, Mark Crosswhite was a partner in Balch Bingham.

In late 2020, a photograph surfaced showing Mark Crosswhite having celebratory drinks with Jay Town in a cozy lounge after Town steered the Oliver Robinson-North Birmingham bribery investigation away from Alabama Power's pivotal role in 2017. An embarrassed, flawed, and deeply compromised Jay Town left office amid allegations that he "fixed" the case for Alabama Power Company and Balch Bingham.

Town's right-hand man was Lloyd Peeples. Peeples was a failed pizza store operator when Town hired him in October of 2017 to run the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama on a day-to-day basis as his First Assistant U.S. Attorney. With Peeples at the helm, Town remained in Huntsville and collected a full-time paycheck for performing ceremonial duties as the U.S. Attorney on a part-time basis.

Apart from being financially distressed and failing miserably in private business, Peeples came into the U.S. Attorney's office with a documented history of hostility to women and blacks.

Today, Lloyd Peeples is the Chief of the Office's Criminal Division. As a Trump political hack and holdover employee, Peeples has burrowed himself into the Office's bureaucracy where he continues to hustle a living off of federal taxpayers' money.

Watkins says he is taking a hopeful, but realistic, approach to today's proceeding and its outcome, which probably will not be known for several months:

My son and I are doing well. We learned a long time ago how to navigate life in Alabama's sea of racial hatred.

We also enjoy a very strong and loving family and friends support network that is derived from the interracial goodwill of five generations of Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins trailblazers who faced the same or similar racial hostility in the Deep South, and persevered.

Donald, Jr., and I are hopeful about the outcome of our appeal. However, we are also realists. We know how "rigged" the federal criminal justice system is today, particularly against black, brown, and poor people in the Deep South. It will be interesting to see whether the three-judge panel that hears our appeal is all-white and whether these judges are from Alabama.

In the end, my son and I are the masters of our fate and the captains of our souls. God has been on our side throughout this ordeal. He will deliver us safely to the other side of midnight. He always does.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Alabama might be entering an era where ingrained public corruption is unmasked and punished, thanks largely to a small public charity and its dogged CEO

K.B. Forbes

Alabama might be entering an era where the public corruption that has plagued the state for decades might finally be held to account. That we've reached such a point owes largely to a Birmingham-based public charity and its CEO, K.B.. Forbes, writing at the blog .banbalch.com, reports former attorney/banker/entrepreneur Donald Watkins.

How toxic has Alabama's corporate, political, and legal environment become? Watkins states that bad actors have "targeted for destruction" three online journalists who have reported widely on corruption -- Forbes, Watkins, and me (at this blog, Legal Schnauzer).  That doesn't count Shelby County attorney Burt Newsome, who was targeted for a head-on vehicle crash that appears to have been deliberately staged -- or Newsome client and former Drummond Company executive David Roberson, who had someone shoot into his vehicle while he was driving on U.S. 280.

Where might an apparent federal investigation be headed? It's probably too soon to say, but Watkins hints that more stunning events could lie ahead. That might include the resignation of a second federal judge in the Northern District of Alabama, accompanied by curious circumstances like those that  trailed the recent surprise resignation of U.S. Judge Abdul Kallon.

If accountability does come to pass, it apparently will be driven largely by non-traditional journalism, with Forbes blazing the trail. Writes Watkins:

As Alabamians, we all owe Kevin B. Forbes, co-founder and chief executive officer of Consejo de Latinos Unidos (CDLU), a great debt of gratitude. CDLU is a nationally recognized consumer healthcare advocacy group that exposed and helped to bring to an end hospital price gouging of uninsured patients. More recently, Mr. Forbes and CDLU have turned their attention to cleaning up ingrained corruption in the U.S. Attorney's office and U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, which is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama (USA).

Mr. Forbes has authored nine investigative reports, spurred three Congressional hearings, and worked coast to coast to improve healthcare for all. His written complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice have succeeded in shining a much-needed spotlight on out-of-control public corruption in the Northern District's "rigged" criminal justice system. This time, criminal investigators in Washington, Georgia, and Florida are moving to curb it.

Born and raised in California, Forbes once taught English as a second language to working Latino students at a post-Secondary vocational school near Watts, South Los Angeles, California. As the son of a Latino immigrant, Mr. Forbes is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Chile and Mexico.

Corruption in Alabama largely has gone unchecked. But the CDLU and Forbes have ushered in a new culture, Watkins writes:

On December 4, 2019, Forbes and CDLU launched a three-year long fight in Washington against public corruption in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama. His unrelenting anti-corruption campaign is now bearing fruit that will benefit Alabamians and the nation for decades to come.

As a direct result of Mr. Forbes' and CDLU's courageous anti-corruption campaign, we have seen the following stunning turn of events that threatens to jail Alabama's most powerful political, business, and political figures:

Watkins then cites eight major incidents that were largely tied to Forbes' reporting at banbalch.com:

(1) The abrupt midnight resignation of U.S. Attorney Jay Town in 2020 after photographs taken in 2017 showed an ethically compromised Town chugging down cocktails with Alabama Power Company CEO Mark Crosswhite during the height of his office's criminal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption that was linked directly to Alabama Power, former state Rep. Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), the Drummond Company, and the law firm of Balch & Bingham. The goal of the bribery scheme was to defeat an initiative by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add a predominantly black neighborhood in North Birmingham as a Superfund clean-up site. Alabama Power provided $30,000 of the money that was used to bribe Rep. Robinson. At least 21 Balch attorneys played some part in the bribery scheme, as well. Yet, neither Alabama Power, nor Crosswhite, nor none of Balch's 21 participating attorneys, nor Drummond Company CEO Mike Tracy was charged in the bribery scheme. Over the objection of honest federal law enforcement officials in Birmingham, Jay Town shut down the bribery and money laundering investigation after meeting with Crosswhite. Only one "fall-guy" from Drummond and one from Balch were indicted, tried, and convicted, along with Robinson, who pleaded guilty. Borrowing a page from a 1980 RICO conspiracy, bribery, and fraud case in Birmingham federal court that was "fixed" to benefit executives at Alabama Power and the Drummond Company, Jay Town steered the North Birmingham Bribery case away from Mark Crosswhite and Mike Tracy and was rewarded with a cushy, high paying general counsel's job that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) arranged for him with Huntsville-based defense contractor Gray Analytics after his resignation.

(2) The demotion of Jay Town's handpicked First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd Peeples in 2021, who has burrowed himself into the Office as the head of its Criminal Division. Peeples is a failed Homewood, Alabama, pizza restaurant owner with a dismal record on operating businesses and a documented history of hostility towards blacks and women. Despite his failure as a businessman, Jay Town had Peeples running the multi-million dollar U.S. Attorney's office on a day-to-day basis while Town drew a full-time salary for ceremonial work.

(3) The 2021 meltdown of perennial political "dirty tricks" artist Joseph Perkins, Jr., and his PR firm, Matrix, LLC. In September of 2021, former Matrix CEO Jeff Pitts filed a lawsuit against Perkins in Florida alleging, for the first time in public, that Perkins engaged in (a) extortion, (b) abuses of the legal process in Alabama, and (c) an ongoing racketeering enterprise. Perkins, who is a confessed federal lawbreaker, has handled Alabama Power's "dirty tricks" operations on an outsourced basis for nearly two decades. Perkins and his companies are under a multi-agency and multi-state multiple law enforcement investigation that began in Florida. Alabama Power has historically funded Perkins and his entities using secret contracts that paid Perkins tens of millions of dollars, "without invoicing." Perkins' work as a "dirty tricks" operator is notorious and has garnered him lucrative contracts with Auburn University, Georgia Power Company (Atlanta), and the Southern Company (Atlanta) that deliberately obscure the nature of his work.

(4) The abrupt resignation of U.S. District Court Judge Abdul K. Kallon on April 5, 2022. Kallon presided over the 2018 North Birmingham Bribery Trial involving Oliver Robinson, Drummond Company executive David Roberson and Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert, which portrayed Roberson and Gilbert as "lone wolves" in the bribery scheme. Kallon's resignation comes as federal investigators are probing obstruction of justice charges in the North Birmingham Bribery Trial.

(5) The unexpected "retirement" of Drummond CEO Mike Tracy. Drummond is Alabama Power's longtime coal supplier for its dirty coal-fired power plants like the one Alabama Power operates at the Miller Steam Plant in Jefferson County, Alabama. This plant is the Number One air polluter in America. Tracy personally approved payments to two ethically-conflicted consultants who lobbied the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to officially oppose the EPA clean-up initiative in North Birmingham. To conceal these payments from EPA officials and the public, Balch & Bingham General Counsel Blake Andrews paid these consultants directly and was later reimbursed by Drummond with Mike Tracy's expressed blessing. To the consternation of honest law enforcement investigators, Jay Town made sure Mike Tracy and Blake Andrews were not indicted or prosecuted for their roles in the bribery scheme.

(6) The April 2022 suicide of Balch & Bingham lawyer, William Dice Lineberry. Mr. Lineberry was the lawyer who helped set up the money laundering entity "Alliance for Jobs and the Economy" (AJE), which was the entity that was used to: (a) receive corporate donations from willing participants in the bribery scheme and (b) funnel over $360,000 in bribery money to Oliver Robinson.

(7) The April 7, 2022, resignations of two Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Birmingham with reported connections to the Office's investigation of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

(8) The reported designation of Alabama Power Company CEO and ex Balch partner Mark A Crosswhite as a "target" of a multi-state federal probe into charges of RICO conspiracy, bribery, and obstruction of justice. Federal investigators are also probing the relationship between Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning and Mark Crosswhite. At Fanning's request and without any prior notice to Alabama Power ratepayers or its state and federal regulators, Crosswhite funneled tens of millions in "bailout money" from Alabama Power's coffers to the Southern Company for a boondoggle nuclear power plant in Mississippi that: (a) the Southern Company is constructing, (b) has been grossly over budget for more than a decade, and (c) is not intended to provide any electricity for Alabama Power's customers. An earlier probe into this matter by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was reportedly "fixed" by Sen. Richard Shelby with senior SEC officials in Washington to extricate Alabama Power and the Southern Company from civil and criminal exposure for this secret and unlawful diversion of Alabama Power's ratepayer funds.

Watkins quickly adds that a number of "open questions" remain on the table:

There are open questions as to whether Joe Perkins is cooperating with federal authorities in the new multi-state probe. Perkins reportedly possesses "dirty secrets" files on compromised public officials and regulators who may have accepted laundered campaign contributions and other "things of value" in exchange for taking official action to help Alabama Power Company, Georgia Power Company, and the Southern Company sustained their respective business monopolies.

Because of the number of individual culprits and corporate entities involved and the scope of Perkins "dirty tricks" operations, it appears that federal investigators are considering a potential RICO charge against the principal participants.

Additionally, at least one more federal judge in Birmingham may be implicated in the criminal probe and may be forced to resign.

Forbes' role goes beyond journalism. As head of a public charity, he also engages in advocacy -- and that has helped bring a national focus to problems in Alabama. Writes Watkins:

Mr. Forbes and CDLU sent letters to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) at the U.S. Department of Justice on December 4, 2019, January 9, 2020, and January 29, 2020 that detailed widespread and credible allegations of public corruption and obstruction of justice spearheaded by Jay E. Town while he served as U.S. Attorney and Lloyd Peeples served as his First Assistant U.S. Attorney. [Click here to view Forbes' 12/4/19, 1/9/20 and 1/29/20 letters to OPR.]

Both Jay Town and Lloyd Peeples have checkered backgrounds. Yet, they were warmly received in the Birmingham federal courthouse that served as the citadel for formal FBI COINTELPRO operations in Alabama, from 1956 to 1972, and informal COINTELPRO activities from 1972 to the present.

This is the same Birmingham federal courthouse where former Chief U.S. District Court Judge Frank McFadden reportedly "fixed" the 1980 "Coal Fraud Trial" case against Alabama Power Company chief financial officer and Drummond Company director Walter F. Johnsey, Drummond Company CEO Gary Neal Drummond, state senator Joe Fine, and four other defendants, all of whom were charged with operating an ongoing criminal racketeering enterprise. Lead prosecutor Broward Segrest would later explain how and why the case was "fixed." Segrest's account of how and why McFadden "fixed" the case for Alabama Power and Drummond was subsequently confirmed by former Blount, Inc., CEO and Republican gubernatorial candidate Winton Blount III, and another high level executive at Blount, Inc. After "fixing" the case for Alabama Power and Drummond, McFadden resigned and was promptly rewarded with a job as general counsel at Blount, Inc.

This appears to be the same playbook that was used in the North Birmingham Bribery Scheme. After the case was allegedly "fixed," Jay Town resigned and was rewarded with a cushy, high-paying job as general counsel at Huntsville-based Gray Analytics.

Does exposing Alabama corruption come with risks? Yes, it does -- as we know firsthand. Writes Watkins:

The only Alabama media organizations to investigate and publish news articles on the chokehold that Alabama Power Company, Drummond Company, Balch & Bingham, Joe Perkins, Matrix, and Senator Shelby have on federal law enforcement agencies and federal judges in Alabama have been Kevin Forbes and CDLU, Roger Shuler and his online publication, Legal Schnauzer, and www.donaldwatkins.com.

Despite his status as a confessed federal lawbreaker, Joe Perkins is the "hunting buddy" of Sen. Shelby and Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Coogler (Birmingham). It is unclear as to who picks up the tab for these hunting excursions.

Mr. Forbes, CDLU, Mr. Shuler, Legal Schnauzer, and I have been targeted for destruction by this band of culprits. Joe Perkins' handwritten notes outlined his plan to destroy me and was published on this news site in September of 2021. 

Note that Alabama mainstream publications have been largely absent on these stories. But Watkins hints that national news outlets might pick up the slack -- and he provides a much-deserved hat tip to K.B. Forbes and his public charity:

    A grateful public thanks to Kevin B. Forbes and CDLU for the courage and tenacity they have shown     in rooting out the ingrained corruption in the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. District Courthouse     for the Northern District of Alabama. The job is not finished, but substantial progress has been made     in eradicating this corruption.

    The Washington Post, which reported on "Alabama's Watergate" on April 3, 1977, now has a chance     to report on the floodgate of public corruption at the highest level of federal law enforcement in           Alabama 45 years later. At www.donaldwatkins.com, we will do our part to support Mr. Forbes, CDLU, Roger Shuler, and Legal Schnauzer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

In the wake of Birmingham attorney's shocking suicide, attention turns to possible obstruction of justice, criminal concealment, and civil RICO cases


The suicide last week of  Balch & Bingham attorney Bo Lineberry was a stunning and perhaps telling event in the years-long effort to unwind apparent scandal in the Alabama corporate, legal, judicial, and law-enforcement worlds. Where does attention turn next? Ban Balch Publisher K.B. Forbes provides clues, under the headline "After Suicide, National Media and Feds Zero in on Alleged Obstruction and “Criminal Concealment;” RICOs Coming?" The sub-headline -- "Suicide. Resignations. Internal turmoil. Corporate strife" -- provides insight into the unrest that seems to be roiling elite circles in Birmingham and beyond. Writes Forbes:

Since November, Birmingham is seeing what appears to be the collapse of the house of marked cards allegedly propped up by the deep resources of Alabama Power. The Three Stooges (Balch & Bingham, Drummond, and Alabama Power) have seen their dominance stumble.

High-level sources told us in late October that Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and a former partner at embattled law firm Balch & Bingham, was an alleged target of an obstruction investigation

Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon resigned along allegedly with two Assistant U.S. Attorneys earlier this month, while Balch partner Bo Lineberry committed suicide last week.

What enormous pressure and worry caused Lineberry to end his life? Was he facing unbearable consequences? Was there an offer on the table that was too brutal for Lineberry to accept?

Seasoned law enforcement authorities tell us the Lineberry suicide spoke volumes about the depth and seriousness of the alleged federal probe.

Attention appears to be spreading beyond Alabama. Writes Forbes:

Now national media are focused on the alleged unsavory and criminal misconduct and alleged abuse of power surrounding the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. once run by disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, who resigned in 2020.

Concurrently, federal investigators are allegedly looking at obstruction of justice and accusations of “criminal concealment.”

In what looked like sheer panic with the rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, the illustrious Mark White, Mark Crosswhite’s go-to criminal attorney, fumbled the ball and showed how concealment appears to be part and parcel of the work product and a standard operating procedure of the Three Stooges and their hired guns.

As we reported about the “Tale of Two Marks” in January of 2021:

[Alabama Power’s] team of attorneys at White, Arnold, & Dowd, led by white-collar criminal attorney Mark White, filed an avalanche of court pleadings in December [2020] at the courthouse office, over the counter as if it were 1950 not 2020. (We wonder if Mark White still uses a rotary phone, stencil duplicator, and Royal typewriter.)

The delay and “hiding the goods” tactic failed. The paper court pleadings were [immediately] scanned and uploaded by the clerk to Alacourt where we, the CDLU, were able to download them.

Concealment might be an unfamiliar legal term to the general public, but it seems to be central to the unfolding Birmingham story:

Concealment has been a consistent element.

  • Concealment was discovered in January when Alabama Power’s multi-million-dollar secret contracts (no invoicing required) with obscure political consulting firm Matrix and its founder “Sloppy Joe” Perkins were exposed.
  • Attorneys for “Sloppy Joe” attempted to call the secret contracts “trade secrets” and sent worthless demand letters to an environmental group and blog that published the concealed million-dollar agreements.
  • Allegations of non-disclosure and concealed indemnity agreements tied to Alabama Power and Balch have swirled since 2017.
  • Absolute concealment was achieved when ex-Drummond executive David Roberson’s $75-million civil lawsuit was sealed in its entirety in the Winter of 2021 in an attempt to hide alleged criminal misconduct. The secretive Star Chamber does not allow anyone to follow or read proceedings in the case.
  • The conservative Alabama Supreme Court reinstated Balch as a defendant in Roberson’s civil case this past February. Bloomberg reported that Balch must face fraud claims due to “misrepresention and concealment.”
  • Balch terminated an alleged pedophile months before he was arrested for soliciting a child online. Ex-Balch attorney Chase T. Espy had worked at the embattled firm for eight years. He then went on to work briefly for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey when he was arrested and immediately fired last August. What caused Balch to fire Espy? What did Balch conceal from the public and the governor regarding Espy?

The biggest concealment appears to be Alabama Power’s alleged secret deal during the North Birmingham Bribery Trial in which the company was “unmentionable” during the trial and criminal defense attorneys allegedly had to clear any mention of Alabama Power with Mark White.

The federal statute of limitations for obstruction of justice is five years. The timing of the alleged federal investigation makes sense. The trial happened in July of 2018. The statute would expire in the summer of 2023.

Those aren't the only worries likely knocking around Birmingham board rooms. Writes Forbes:

Now Alabama Power and their sister-wife Balch & Bingham appear to have even bigger issues coming.

If obstruction of justice indictments are handed down and/or alleged criminal information is disclosed related to the alleged federal probe and the Matrix Meltdown, expect a federal civil RICO lawsuit or two against Balch, Alabama Power, and others.

The first civil RICO lawsuit will be based on the Newsome Conspiracy Case, a travesty of justice in which an innocent man, Burt Newsome, was allegedly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by Balch in an attempt to steal his law practice providing legal services to banks.

Newsome was arrested by a cop who was the son of a now-retired Alabama Power executive. Ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town allegedly blocked four investigations related to the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Another, separate civil RICO lawsuit could be filed on behalf of “fall guy”and ex-Drummond executive David Roberson.

Either way, the Three Stooges and their defenders are exposed in the open no matter how many concealed deals, secret smear campaigns, or Star Chambers they create.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Alleged broken taillight caused a Georgia state trooper to fatally shoot an unarmed black man, Julian Lewis, leading to a record-setting $4.8-million settlement

Julian Lewis

Georgia has reached a record settlement in the state-trooper shooting death of an unarmed black man. The Atlanta law firm of  Hall and Lampros represented the family of Julian Lewis in the $4.8-million pre-lawsuit settlement. From a report at the Macon Telegraph:

Julian Lewis, a 60-year-old unarmed Black man, was driving his Nissan Sentra to a store after work to pick up an orange soda for his wife when he was shot and killed by a Georgia state trooper in 2020, according to state investigators.

Now his widow will get $4.8 million.

The state of Georgia agreed to pay Betty Lewis before she took the case to court, making it the largest pre-litigation settlement in state history dating back to 1990, the law firm of Hall & Lampros LLP said in a news release. Betty Lewis’s lawyers said they were readying to sue the former trooper, the Georgia State Highway Patrol and related officials before reaching a settlement through mediation.

“Our hearts grieve for Betty Lewis, who lost her Golden Years with her husband because of unwarranted and unnecessary deadly force during what should have been a routine traffic stop,” attorney Andrew Lampros said in the release. Lampros added the “events of that August night should never have happened,” calling it “unconscionable".

What led to the shooting death of Julian Lewis? An alleged broken taillight. From the Telegraph

According to the law firm, Julian Lewis was driving to the store on Aug. 7, 2020, when a state trooper activated his blue lights to pull him over for a broken taillight. Lawyers said investigators later determined neither of his taillights were “in a condition to justify probable cause for a stop.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigation identified the trooper as Jacob Gordon Thompson, who is white and was 27 years old at the time.

Investigators said Thompson tried to pull Lewis over on Stoney Pond Road in Screven County, which stretches less than two miles through farmland and woods in rural southeast Georgia. Screven County sits on the border with South Carolina, about 78 miles northwest of Hilton Head. According to an initial news release dated one day after the shooting, Thompson intended to stop Lewis for a traffic offense but “the car refused to stop and led the trooper on a brief chase down several county roads.”

Lawyers for Betty Lewis said it is believed her husband was trying to “drive toward a more familiar area where he knew other people would be present” and that he turned on both his turn signals as a sign of acknowledgment to the trooper. Thompson then used what’s known as a Precision Intervention Technique, or PIT maneuver, to stop the Nissan, investigators said. The trooper hit Lewis with enough force to spin his car in the opposite direction before coming to rest in a ditch, according to the widow’s attorneys and the GBI.

“Less than two seconds passed from the time the trooper opened the door to his vehicle and fired a shot that killed 60-year-old Lewis instantly,” attorneys said, citing testimony from state investigators. Thompson fired one round. Lewis was pronounced dead on the scene, state investigators said.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Suicide of Balch & Bingham attorney William "Bo" Lineberry adds a tragic and stunning turn to apparent federal probe related to North Birmingham scandal

Bo Lineberry

An attorney at Birmingham's embattled Balch & Bingham law firm committed suicide yesterday, adding a sad and shocking turn to reports of a possible federal investigation related to the North Birmingham Superfund bribery case. William Dice "Bo" Lineberry reportedly played a central role in setting up a financial entity that was at the heart of the Superfund scandal. From a report at banbalch.com, under the headline "Attorney Commits Suicide; Federal Investigation Rocks Balch and Southern Company; Crosswhite Out?" Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes:

Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon resigned a week ago. Last Thursday, two Assistant U.S. Attorneys allegedly resigned, now sources told us and we confirmed this morning that Balch & Bingham partner William Dice Lineberry, known to many as “Bo,” committed suicide early yesterday.

Lineberry was the Balch lawyer who helped set up the money laundering entity Alliance for Jobs and the Economy (AJE) in the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

Former Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert and ex-Drummond executive David Roberson were convicted in the scandal and are currently in federal prison.

Hours after the suicide, Balch updated Bo Lineberry’s profile with an “in memoriam” and simply mentioned Lineberry had “passed away.”

We, the CDLU, set aside our differences, and extend our deepest sympathies to the Lineberry family and Bo Lineberry’s colleagues at Balch & Bingham during this very difficult and sad time.

Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Lineberry attempted suicide at an unknown time in the hours prior to yesterday morning. He was transported to a local hospital and removed from life support early Tuesday.

Balch was at the center of the North Birmingham matter, but the case's impact goes well beyond the law firm's walls, Forbes writes:

In June of 2019, investigators in Washington, D.C. told us that Balch was not the problem but that Alabama Power was, due to the bottomless resources at their command. Now, this last fall, sources told us Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and former Balch partner, was the alleged target of this obstruction of justice probe.

Tom Fanning, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power’s parent company Southern Company, appears to have let their most profitable subsidiary do what they want with impunity.

Will Fanning lead by example and force Crosswhite to resign or retire?

The Three Stooges (Balch, Drummond, and Alabama Power) appear to have manipulated federal prosecutors during the North Birmingham Bribery Trial.

And CDLU’s three letters with documentation to the Office of Professional Responsibility at the U.S. Department of Justice in late 2019 and early 2020 apparently spurred a much-needed federal investigation.

The rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal appears to be sweeping and strong, with three federal resignations and, sadly, a suicide.

Who and how many of the Three Stooges’ lackeys and alleged co-conspirators will be held accountable?

Lineberry's suicide likely stands as the most shocking incident in a string of troubling events related to the North Birmingham matter. But the scandal, whether it's in criminal or civil court, seems to keep growing, leaving this question: What will turn up next, and will someone (or some entity), ultimately, bring the corruption -- long tied to Alabama's business, legal, political, law-enforcement, and judicial communities -- to an end? Writes Forbes today:

The JeffCo Medical Examiner confirmed moments ago that they have Lineberry’s body,  and a detailed report will be issued in four to six weeks.

For years we have used the word “carcasses” figuratively to describe all the individuals who have been fired, arrested, or soiled by their relationship with Balch and/or their sister-wife Alabama Power.

And now someone has killed himself. A father. A husband. A respected lawyer.

Heartbreaking. Tragically heartbreaking.

Two assistant U.S. attorneys reportedly resign shortly after Judge Abdul Kallon's resignation announcement, adding to intrigue swirling at Hugo Black Courthouse

Hugo Black Courthouse

Two assistant U.S. attorneys (AUSAs) in the Northern District of Alabama apparently resigned about 24 hours after federal judge Abdul Kallon announced his resignation last week, according to a report at banbalch.com.

Who are the USAs, what do their resignations mean, and are they tied to the curious Kallon announcement, where he stated plans to give up a coveted lifetime appointment -- apparently because his wife had received an attractive job offer from out-of-state? Those are just three entries on a growing list of unanswered questions swirling around the Hugo Black Courthouse in downtown Birmingham. But the questions add to the sense that something big is brewing on the local legal scene.

A federal judge makes a stunning resignation announcement, followed by two U.S. attorneys hitting the exits? Those kinds of events are well outside the norm. Writes Ban Balch Publisher K.B. Forbes:

Over the weekend, the same high-level sources who accurately told us about Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon’s abrupt resignation last Wednesday, alleged that two Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Birmingham have resigned a mere 24 hours later.

Yesterday, we, the CDLU, reached out to the Public Affairs Specialist for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.  We finally spoke at about 2:00 p.m. CDT yesterday afternoon.

We told her that we had heard that two AUSAs had resigned last Thursday.

She stated, “Oh yes…,” and then caught herself, saying after a pause, “I’ll have to check on this. Do you have names?” We told her that we did not, but we were calling to verify the news and obtain the names since it is highly unusual for two AUSAs to resign simultaneously.  

She asked what blog we were, and we told her BanBalch.com the site that published the photos of disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town having cocktails with Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and former partner at embattled law firm Balch & Bingham. She acknowledged that she knew the site.

The public affairs specialist suddenly was in no hurry to confirm what a reliable source already had told Forbes:

We emphasized that we wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth since last week our reliable source also told us of Judge Kallon’s resignation and we spoke to his clerk who confirmed the fact with a sigh.

She never replied even though we texted her cell phone Monday evening asking her to confirm or deny. This morning, we let her know we were on a drop-dead deadline. We left her a voicemail a little before 12:30 p.m CDT today.

The silence was beyond deafening, and confirmed to us that the reports of twin resignations had merit.

Now, moments ago she replied via text, “We have no comment.”

Maybe we know something we shouldn’t know.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Aftershocks from the surprise resignation of federal judge Abdul Kallon continue in Birmingham as reports surface of stunning behind-the-scenes skulduggery

Abdul Kallon

Did U.S. Judge Abdul Kallon reach an immunity deal with federal investigators, and did that at least partially explain his stunning resignation last week -- giving up a coveted lifetime appointment for no clear-cut reason? Those questions hover over the Birmingham legal community as new chapters unfold in what now might be called the Kallon-Balch-Matrix-Drummond-Alabama Power caper. Meanwhile reports are surfacing of backstage trickery that sound like they come from the pages of a Tom Clancy spy novel. Reports K.B. Forbes at banbalch.com, under the headline "Federal Dragnet? All Eyes on Crosswhite, Alabama Power, and Newly Revealed Alleged Criminal Acts":

Was Kallon offered a deal?

Just three years shy from senior status, Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon abruptly announced his resignation to a lifetime appointment. He would have had full benefits and privileges.

Multiple legal observers have told us that this resignation makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And people are asking:

  • Was Kallon offered full criminal immunity for his cooperation in an alleged federal probe?
  • Was Kallon required to resign after he wrapped up current pending or ongoing cases as a condition of an alleged full criminal immunity deal?

Kallon has cited personal reasons in his decision to step down, but do those make sense for a federal judge who is virtually untouchable in his professional life? Writes Forbes:

What Kallon has said to media is that his spouse has taken a job in another state and the usual “shown-the-door” excuse: he wished to spend more time with his family.

But as a federal judge, Kallon could have easily adjusted his calendar and made time to travel back and forth. Kallon could have taken Fridays off; or a week here and there; and worked with his wife to make the sacrifice for three years until he reached senior status.

The Kallon resignation has indeed rocked Birmingham and the legal community. Our website has had unprecedented traffic these last several days not only from Alabama but across the country. We received an alert this morning from Google Search Console that average daily clicks increased over 1000% percent.

Is the alleged federal dragnet wider and deeper than most people have believed?

Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and former Balch & Bingham partner, is allegedly a principal target of the alleged obstruction of justice probe.

The secret deal during the North Birmingham Bribery Trial that kept Alabama Power “unmentionable” during the trial seems to be cornerstone of the allegations of obstruction of justice.

But what may have accelerated the probe are two factors:

 The intrigue extends beyond the borders of Alabama:

In Florida, the alleged “ghost candidates” scandal has shaken the vicious and bitter business divorce between Matrix founder “Sloppy Joe” Perkins and his once-protégé Jeff Pitts. While Florida state investigators have been probing since 2021, are the Feds now piggybacking on a broader federal investigation of alleged criminal acts?

Now let’s disclose some details of alleged criminal misconduct.

Were Alabama Power, Balch or Matrix’s hired guns involved or not involved in these alleged acts?

This is where the Clancyesque material gets disturbingly deep:

In the summer of 2020, an orchestrated campaign against us, the CDLU, completely and utterly backfired.

The buffoons targeted the wrong family at the wrong address, hired a rabble-rouser who was later issued multiple arrest warrants by three different law enforcement agencies, and even had a once-respected journalist amputate his brain to defend the indefensible.

As we reported before, at the height of the orchestrated campaign someone attempted stupidly to impersonate our Executive Director, K.B. Forbes, and his then-eight-year old daughter in two attempts to illegally obtain banking information from Bryant Bank, a regional bank in Alabama.

The criminal suspect(s) had private, confidential information including full bank account numbers. Federal investigators were briefed and intrigued.

At the time, in the fall of 2020, we learned from investigators of another incident that occurred at the same time reminding us of President Richard M. Nixon’s “White House Plumbers.”

The law offices of Burt Newsome saw a single corporate binder checkbook stolen from their offices. The weekly cleaning crew disconnected the security camera and alleged they needed to plug in a vacuum cleaner, an apparent lie. Four plug outlets were available on the eight plug outlet, according to investigators.

And what checkbook was stolen? Only one of several client trust accounts Newsome Law has at various financial institutions.

And what bank was targeted from all the multiple checkbook binders? Bryant Bank. Were the “plumbers” really this sloppy, this stupid?

Can happenstance explain the Bryant Bank connection to both of these incidents? We don't have a clear answer at the moment, but Forbes shares a number of insights:

    And what appears to have had Alabama Power and Balch & Bingham panties in a wad?

    The $2 million grant the CDLU received in 2019 (which we can declare on the record has nothing to do with Balch & Bingham, Alabama Power, Matrix or their competitors) caused them to defecate  rainbows. The grant is related to our two decades of healthcare and consumer protection advocacy, and helped us pay off debt, including multiple years of back-pay, long-ago legal fees, and unpaid rent as we honored promises made to our employees, consultants, landlords, and lawyers during the Great Recession.

    But the smear artists, hired whores, and yellow journalists do not care. The have no            honor. They  have no integrity. They have no moral compass.

    And now a dragnet appears to be sweeping them up.

    Kallon appears to be another carcass. Will more carcasses be wheeled out soon?

Monday, April 11, 2022

Ali Alexander tries to distance himself from Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as U.S. Department of Justice issues grand-jury subpoena re: Jan. 6 investigation

Ali Alexander (Politico/Getty Images)

Ali Alexander, the right-wing extremist with ties to Alabama, has received a grand-jury subpoena related to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. This could be a major development for at least two reasons: (1) It signals DOJ involvement in a probe that, so far, has focused mainly on the U.S. House select committee; (2) It appears to focus on events leading to the attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters -- and the individuals who organized those events. From a report at Politico:

Ali Alexander, the founder of the Stop the Steal organization that helped promote Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, said Friday he received a grand jury subpoena from the Justice Department and intends to cooperate with the investigation.

In a lengthy statement, Alexander denied any wrongdoing and said he is not a target of the investigation, which he said was more clearly aimed at organizers of a Jan. 6 rally near the White House. That event was run by “Women for America First.”

Alexander’s confirmation of a grand jury subpoena is the first public acknowledgment that the Justice Department’s probe of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has expanded to include organizers of the events that preceded the attack, including some figures adjacent to Trump himself. The issuance of a grand jury subpoena suggests prosecutors believe crimes may have been committed in connection with those events.

Alexander has previously testified to the Jan. 6 select committee, where he talked about his contacts with Republican members of Congress. His cooperation with the Justice Department was first reported by the New York Times.

How strong are Alexander's ties to Jan. 6. In his own words, they are quite strong:

Alexander said in a since-deleted video that he worked with GOP Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks to attempt to use Congress’ Jan. 6 session certifying Joe Biden’s victory as a chance to pressure lawmakers to overturn the electoral results.

“We four schemed up to put maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in the video.

Biggs and Brooks have denied any substantive relationship with Alexander. Gosar has declined to address their contacts.

Alexander is also fighting in court to block a subpoena from the select committee for his phone records.

In his lawsuit to block the subpoena, Alexander revealed he had contact on the morning of Jan. 6 with Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. who played a role in securing financing for the ellipse rally.

“Ms. Guilfoyle thanked Mr. Alexander for being a leader on voting rights and creating the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement,” Alexander’s lawyers revealed in the filing. “The two spoke about the ongoing Georgia election and the GOP primaries that would take place in 2022. The Select Committee seemed satisfied with Alexander’s explanation of that short call.”

Guilfoyle is still in talks with the select committee about potential testimony.

Alexander's public statement on the subpoena seems designed to minimize his importance to the DOJ investigation. From Politico

In his statement, Alexander sought to separate himself from the substance of the investigation, saying he did not coordinate with the Proud Boys and suggesting his contact with the Oath Keepers was limited to accepting an offer for them to act as ushers at an event that never took place: his own permitted event near the Capitol, which didn’t occur because of the mob attack on the Capitol. The Oath Keepers are the subject of conspiracy charges for their roles in breaching the Capitol that day.

“I did not finance the Ellipse equipment. I did not ever talk with the White House about security groups. Any militia working security at the Ellipse belonged to “Women for America First,” not us,” Alexander said. “I did not coordinate any movements with the Proud Boys or even see them that day. I did take Oath Keepers offer to act as ushers for the Area 8 event but all of that was lost in the chaos. I wasn’t in communication with any of the aforementioned groups while I was near the Capitol working to get people away from the building. Lastly, I’m not willing to presume anyone’s guilt.”

“I did nothing wrong and I am not in possession of evidence that anyone else had plans to commit unlawful acts,” Alexander said. “I denounce anyone who planned to subvert my permitted event and the other permitted events of that day on Capitol grounds to stage any counterproductive activities.”

Despite his disavowal of other extremist groups that participated in the Jan. 6 attack, CNN previously unearthed video of Alexander saying he intended to reach out to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers about doing security for his event.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Breaking: U.S. Judge Abdul Kallon issues surprising resignation announcement as reports swirl about possible investigations related to bribery scandal

Abdul Kallon

Abdul Kallon, federal judge in the Northern District of Alabama, announced his resignation today -- giving up a lifetime appointment as online reports swirl about possible investigations related to the North Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal and apparent efforts to keep corporate entities -- Alabama Power, especially -- out of the case, along with some of the state's most powerful white political figures. Former State Rep. Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), who is Black, went to prison in the case.

Currently incarcerated are former Drummond Company executive David Roberson and former Balch & Bingham law partner Joel Gilbert, who were convicted in a joint trial that Kallon oversaw. Roberson has an ongoing $75-million lawsuit alleging that Balch and Drummond combined to make him a fall guy in the case. That civil matter essentially has reopened issues connected to the criminal bribery case, and sources say that could have influenced Kallon's decision to resign.

Kallon's announcement sent shock waves today through the Birmingham legal community. It comes almost two years after Trump-appointed U.S. attorney Jay Town made a similarly surprising resignation announcement. Town famously had been caught in a photograph chugging cocktails with Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite at a downtown Birmingham lounge shortly before the bribery trial. The trial reportedly featured an agreement to keep Alabama Power "unmentionable" during the case

Does Kallon's resignation signal that a shakeup might be coming on the Alabama legal scene? Our sources say that seems possible. "I have to think that indictments may be in the works against some of those that were involved in this sham trial of Roberson," one source said. " You just do not resign a lifetime appointment for no reason. Something is on its way down."

A protective coating appears to have applied to white, conservative political figures during the bribery trial, and that did not go unnoticed -- locally or nationally. Former State Attorney General and U.S. Sen. Luther Strange was front and center in much of that reporting. From a February 2021 post at Legal Schnauzer (LS)

Political contributions from Drummond Company to Luther Strange were in exchange for his opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) making North Birmingham a Superfund site, the company's former director of government affairs says in discovery filed yesterday in his $75-million fraud lawsuit against Drummond and the Balch Bingham law firm. States David Roberson:

"As head of government affairs at Drummond, I never made or recommended any campaign contributions on behalf of the company that were a bribe and/or in any way illegal. The political contributions to Luther Strange were in exchange for him to sign letters as the state attorney general opposing North Birmingham being made a Superfund site. I never met with Luther Strange in connection with this contribution and was not made aware of it until after the fact."

Strange hardly was alone in the unwanted spotlight, as a letter from the Project for Government Oversight (POGO) to Jay Town -- calling for him to step down from the case due to conflicts related to Alabama politicians -- made clear. From a March 2021 LS post on the subject:

POGO’s reason for calling upon you to recuse yourself is that three key officials who are your political allies and supported your appointment as U.S. Attorney—Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Senator Luther Strange, and Senator Richard Shelby—all have deep political, financial, or personal ties to Balch and Drummond. Furthermore, Senator Strange has been linked to the bribery scandal.. . . 

As Alabama Attorney General, Senator Strange filed letters with the EPA in October 2014 and January 2015 declaring that the state would not provide any funding for the cleanup of the Birmingham Superfund site, located in a poor African American neighborhood. The Drummond Co. donated $25,000 to his campaign two weeks before the first letter in October 2014 and another $25,000 a month after the second letter in January 2015. . . . 

You twice advised Senator Strange in political campaigns. He subsequently supported your nomination for U.S. Attorney. Senator Strange is now alleged to be involved in a bribery scandal under investigation by the office of which you are now in charge.

POGO then turned its attention to Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby:

Another public supporter of your nomination as U.S. Attorney is Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Balch and Drummond were, respectively, Senator Sessions second and third largest sources of campaign funding during his Senate career—and through their political action committees and employees have contributed an approximate total of $300,000 to his campaigns since the late 1990s.

Finally, Senator Richard Shelby, another principal sponsor of your nomination as U.S. Attorney, and for whom you appeared in a television campaign commercial in 2016, is a longtime recipient of campaign money from Balch and Drummond. According to public records, Senator Shelby has received approximately $110,000 from Balch and $155,500 from Drummond over his last three election cycles (1999-2016).

The roll call of Alabama politicos tied to the Superfund case does not end there, thanks to a report from Mother Jones. As we reported in October 2017:

Joining Sessions and Shelby on the list of ignominy are U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), former Gov. Robert Bentley, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), and Strange's one-time campaign manager Jessica Garrison. Notice a pattern? Yes, we're looking here at all white, conservative Republicans.

The names of Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley and Jabo Waggoner are particularly interesting:

Drummond was a major political benefactor of former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April amid an embarrassing sex scandal. Bentley’s administration fiercely battled the EPA’s Superfund push in North Birmingham, yet he was hardly alone. Among the state officials who assisted Drummond and Balch was one of the longest-serving members of the state Legislature, Republican Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, who in 2015 successfully introduced a resolution opposing the EPA actions at the 35th Avenue Superfund site. According to the Justice Department, the measure was in fact authored by Balch’s Joel Gilbert.

How did Gary Palmer's name come up?

Sessions, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) sent a letter to the EPA condemning the use of the “air deposition theory” at the 35th Avenue site. Attached to the letter was a copy of Waggoner’s ghostwritten resolution. In July 2016, according to an EPA spokesman, officials from the agency briefed staffers for Sessions, Shelby, and Palmer regarding the status of the 35th Avenue site.  

And how did Jessica Medeiros Garrison, join the fray. Mother Jones provides the answer:

[Jeffrey] Wood, [Ed] Haden, and other Balch lawyers spearheaded high-profile legal fights with the Obama-era EPA. Wood and Haden represented Republican members of Congress in a 2016 court filing siding with West Virginia as it fought EPA carbon emission standards at coal power plants. The lawsuit appeared to be coordinated by coal behemoth Murray Energy and the fossil fuel industry-funded Republican Attorneys General Association. RAGA’s executive director at the time, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, was simultaneously an attorney at Balch from 2011 through 2016. She has also worked for Sessions.

As for Kallon, he reportedly was three years from going on senior status and reaching full retirement. He had worked at the downtown corporate law firm Bradley Arant before his judicial appointment. From an al.com report on the resignation: 

A federal judge in Birmingham has submitted his resignation to President Biden. U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon,appointed to the lifetime position in 2010 by President Obama, will resign effective Aug. 31, 2022, according to his resignation letter dated April 5.

“I am forever grateful to President Barack Obama for the confidence implicit in his decision to nominate me for this position,’’ Kallon wrote in the letter to Biden.

The judge did not give a reason for his resignation. Efforts to reach him for comment weren’t immediately successful. His office declined comment.