What once was a story of alleged corporate malfeasance involving Alabama Power, Southern Company, and related entities is evolving into a story about Alabama's dysfunctional "justice apparatus." Our post on Monday (1/16/23), focusing on the criminal case against prominent black attorney and businessman Donald Watkins, showed the state's decaying judicial and law-enforcement systems are so broken they can produce outcomes that are tainted, even rigged. Is that a sign that victims of the Alabama Power saga stand little chance of achieving justice -- given Alabama courthouses (both federal and state) often are the places where fairness and the rule of law go to die?
The answer to that question might prove to be yes. But as we also reported on Monday, multiple sources state that national and international news outlets are investigating apparent corruption tied to Alabama's corporate titans. When those stories hit the streets, it might give rogue judges and prosecutors little place to hide -- suggesting that all hope might not be lost for victims.
How did we get to this point? K.B. Forbes, CEO of the CDLU public charity and advocacy group, has used his organization's blog, banbalch.com, to lead the way in exposing dubious actions that often center around the Matrix LLC consulting firm of Montgomery and Birmingham's Balch & Bingham law firm. It's a tale that Alabama's mainstream media (MSM) seems reluctant to touch, but Forbes has not hesitated to dive into the muck. His findings have been consistently distressing, even shocking. And in a post today titled "Tangled: Southern Company’s Criminal Enterprise, Law Enforcement Stooges, Compromised Judges, Paid-Off Media, and the Miscarriage of Justice, he reports that the whole sordid mess started because of -- surprise, surprise -- money:
Southern Company allowed their most profitable subsidiary Alabama Power to run free, like outlaws in the Wild West.
Why? Because Alabama Power’s excessive profits helped pay for the billion-dollar cost overruns at two Southern Company boondoggles: The Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia and the Kemper Plant in Mississippi.
Forbes then turns to possible avenues for victims to seek justice:
Ex-Alabama Power CEO Mark A. Crosswhite appears to have run a criminal enterprise that gives multiple victims of the misconduct standing to sue Southern Company with civil RICO lawsuits.
Civil RICO lawsuits against Southern Company, Matrix, Balch & Bingham, and others offer plaintiffs a solution to the rigged and corrupt system of justice and law enforcement in Alabama.
The acts carried out by Alabama Power, Balch, Matrix and others associated to the criminal enterprise are actionable. And the civil RICO statute provides triple damages to victims.
Now with Monday’s explosive post showing Southern Company’s law enforcement stooge and disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town authorized the subpoena of Alabama Media Group to find out the identity of an innocent, online commentator, the tangled web of law enforcement stooges, compromised judges, and paid-off media demonstrate a horrific enterprise engaged in acts of injustice.
While Forbes focuses on RICO as a possible civil remedy for victims of corruption, he also provides an example of how Alabama "crime fighters" can be incompetent, compromised or both. For this, we turn to the case of Shelby County attorney Burt Newsome, who has been the victim of a mysterious head-on vehicle crash that nearly killed him, plus a case of brazen identity theft -- not to mention Balch's apparent efforts to ruin a sizeable chuck of his banking practice, and the peculiar actions of a state judge who shows signs of being compromised. Writes Forbes:
When the Southern Company’s criminal enterprise sent two sets of outfits and travel bags to Newsome’s wife and each of his four children as a threatening message, local law enforcement had the audacity to blame his young twins who couldn’t read of ordering the items, picking correct clothing sizes, and inputting a stolen credit card number and home address on a website.
Fraudulently using a stolen credit card is a Class C Felony in Alabama. Why in God’s name did local Shelby County Sheriff Deputies ignore this crime and dismiss it as an act of his two young children?
Some of this might be too bizarre to grasp in one setting, so we will summarize the fundamental parts: Someone stole Burt Newsome's credit-card out of his wife's vehicle and used the card to charge items that were sent to the home to terrorize Newsome's family.
Did law enforcement take this seriously? Nope. Neither the Shelby County Sheriff's Office nor the U.S. Attorney's Office have taken any apparent meaningful action.
To top it off, Southern Company has been less-than-forthcoming about the Newsome case, writes Forbes;
In January of 2018, Jim Kerr, the Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel at Southern Company told us unequivocally that Southern Company/Alabama Power was not involved in the Newsome Conspiracy Case.
But that was untrue, a lie.
A year later we uncovered that the staged arrest of Newsome in 2013 was done by the cop-son of a retired Alabama Power executive.
The anonymous documents we received in November show that Alabama Power paid to have the Newsome family terrorized, paid to tar and feather Newsome falsely as a rapist, and, to add a cherry on top of this cluster of injustice, paid-off the media to attack Newsome.
Southern Company’s paid-off media, the discredited Alabama Political Reporter, wrote a long-winded article in 2021 attacking the merits of the Newsome Conspiracy Case while defending Alabama Power and making disgraced ex-CEO Mark A. Crosswhite sound like a poor victim of this blog. (Cry us a polluted river!) . . .
Alabama Power paid Alabama Political Reporter at least $120,000 a year according to documents we received anonymously.
In 2018, Kerr may have looked the other way and let Alabama Power act like outlaws. Or maybe Kerr was lied to by subordinates.
All that changed in 2022, when news report revealed that Alabama Power spied on Southern Company Chairman and CEO Tom Fanning and his then-girlfriend in 2017.
The outlaws had shot themselves in the foot.
While Southern Company is cleaning house and restructuring, the corrupt state of affairs and infrastructure in Alabama remains.
Donald V. Watkins, the Newsome Family, the Forbes Family, the CDLU, GASP, and others have one remedy to clean up this Alabama mess and detangle the corruption: a federal civil RICO lawsuit.
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