Sunday, January 29, 2023

Donald Watkins files criminal RICO complaint against Matrix LLC, Alabama Power, and Southern Company as The Wall Street Journal investigation heats up

Joe Perkins and Mark Crosswhite

Longtime Alabama attorney and entrepreneur Donald V. Watkins has filed a criminal complaint against Alabama Power, Southern Company, Matrix LLC, and Matrix founder/owner Joe Perkins, according to a post at Watkins' Web site. In a separate post, Watkins discusses the possibility that Perkins and one of his prominent clients, Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite, will be indicted. Watkins also reveals that The Wall Street Journal is working on a major investigative piece about scandals surrounding Matrix and its clients and provides insights on deferred prosecution agreements that Alabama Power and Southern Company reportedly are seeking,

As for the criminal complaint, it is brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).Watkins was the target of a 2018-19 criminal trial, but recent reports present evidence that corporate power brokers and compromised justice officials joined forces to ensure the proceeding was a sham.

At his Web site, Watkins discusses the complaint under the headline "Criminal RICO Complaint Filed Against Alabama Power, Southern Company, Matrix, Perkins:

On January 27, 2023, a criminal complaint was filed with Mr. Kenneth Polite, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, that alleged a litany of violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by: (a) Southern Company, Inc., (b) Alabama Power Company, (c) Matrix, LLC, (d) Joseph W. Perkins, Jr., (owner of Matrix), and (e) other RICO participants who worked in concert with them.

The major goals of the alleged racketeering enterprise were to: (a) target, influence, compromise, corrupt, control, and/or destroy individuals and entities that posed a perceived or real threat to Alabama Power’s monopoly in Alabama as an energy producer and provider, (b) perpetuate Alabama Power’s ironclad control of local, state, and federal elected and appointed officials in Alabama, and (c) protect, expand, and solidify its grip on political affairs in the state of Alabama.

The complaint also alleges that the named offenders engaged in criminal antitrust conduct against certain Watkins-owned biomass-to-energy businesses that competed on a commercial scale against biomass-to-energy businesses owned and/or controlled by the Southern Company in the same U.S. markets.

The complaint apparently is not lacking in details:

The complaint was accompanied by a detailed Proffer of Evidence that named the specific offenders and outlined the nature and scope of the RICO and antitrust conduct that adversely impacted the complainants and caused them severe economic harm.

The named complainants are: (a) Donald V. Watkins, Sr., (b) Donald V. Watkins, Jr., (c) Donald V. Watkins, P.C., (d) Watkins-Pencor, LLC, (e) the Donald Watkins Agency, Inc., (f) DNA Centers of Alabama, Inc., and (g) Highland Virtual Suites, LLC, all of which are/were owned by the complainants during the racketeering conspiracy period.

Matrix LLC is at the heart of media and law-enforcement investigations in Florida and Washington, D.C. Watkins reports:

The Watkins complaint was filed two days after NextEra Energy (NEE) and Florida Power & Light (FPL) filed a Form 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announcing that “Allegations of violations of law by FPL or NEE have the potential to result in fines, penalties, or other sanctions or effects, as well as cause reputational damage for FPL and NEE, and could hamper FPL’s and NEE’s effectiveness in interacting with governmental authorities.”

The violations of law referenced in this Form 8-K stem from the clandestine “dirty tricks” work Joe Perkins' Matrix, LLC, performed for these Florida companies. Some of this work is described in a December 22, 2022 article I published titled, “Joe Perkins and Matrix in Deep Trouble” and a December 19, 2022 article National Public Radio published titled, “In the Southeast, power company money flows to news sites that attack their critics.”
On December 26, 2021, I revealed that Alabama Power had paid Perkins $2.5 million, without invoicing. I also published two of Perkins' secret contracts with Alabama Power, which covered the period from January 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019. Perkins has carried out "dirty tricks" operations for Alabama Power for nearly two decades.
Matrix promptly carried out an act of retaliation against me for publishing the Alabama Power Company contracts.

The Matrix scandal, for now, touches primarily on three states -- Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. But Watkins says the misconduct involving Matrix and Southern Company in Alabama and Georgia is far worse than anything that has been reported in Florida:

The “dirty tricks” scandal that has engulfed NEE, FPL, Perkins, and Matrix in Florida pales in comparison to the scope and depth of “dirty tricks” Perkins and Matrix have performed for Alabama Power and the Southern Company in Alabama and Georgia. The array of people implicated in the Alabama scandal and related criminal probes has been mind-blowing for investigators.

Legal observers who are familiar with the Florida, Georgia, and Alabama criminal investigations expect to see federal indictments in this growing multi-state racketeering scandal in the near future.

Now that a RICO complaint has been filed, how does the case proceed? Watkins provides insights:

The Watkins complainants invoked their rights as RICO and antitrust “crime victims” within the meaning of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771, the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act, 34 U.S.C. § 20141 (“VRRA”), and the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. Under the VRRA, a “crime victim” is a person who has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the crimes committed by the named RICO/antitrust offenders.

The complainants have requested that the Department of Justice solicit their views as “crime victims” on major case prosecutorial decisions such as dismissals, plea negotiations, pretrial diversion for individual wrongdoers, and non-prosecution agreements.

On other topics, Watkins reports:

I have confirmed that The Wall Street Journal has been working since December on an in-depth investigative article on Southern Company, Alabama Power, and their longtime business relationship with Perkins and Matrix. This article is expected to be published soon.

On the scope of possible indictments:

Southern Company has not issued a Form 8-K filing yet, but may do so after an internal investigation by the Atlanta-based King & Spalding LLP law firm,  centering on Matrix’s “dirty tricks” work for Southern Company and Alabama Power, is completed.

As is the case with NextEra Energy (NEE) and Florida Power & Light (FPL), I expect to see several top Alabama Power and Southern Company executives indicted, as well.
I do not expect that Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning will be indicted. Fanning was a victim of one of Matrix “dirty tricks” schemes that was designed to pressure him into resigning so that Mark Crosswhite could take his place as CEO of Southern Company. Fortunately, this ill-conceived scheme failed.
Criminal lawyers in Birmingham are already getting calls from Alabama Power executives who believe they have criminal exposure in this RICO case.

On deferred Prosecution Agreements:

It appears that Southern Company and Alabama Power are seeking what is called a “deferred or non-prosecution agreement” from the U.S. Department of Justice. If granted, these entities will not be prosecuted, but their former executives may well be charged.

Under Title 9-28.000 of the Department’s Justice Manual, this relief may be available to Southern Company and Alabama Power if they take certain actions that aid the Department’s investigation. Generally, these actions include: (a) ousting all persons responsible for the violations of law from the company, (b) conducting an internal investigation, (c) refraining from impeding the Department’s investigation by hiring or paying for lawyers for the wrongdoers, (d) voluntarily disclosing the results of the internal investigation to prosecutors, and (e) making restitution to the crime victims adversely impacted by the criminal conduct disclosed by the federal probe.
Matrix is not expected to be offered a deferred or non-prosecution agreement under any circumstance. The company’s “dirty tricks” work has: (a) soiled the reputations of two New York Stock Exchange companies, as well as their wholly-owned affiliates, (b) placed these publicly-traded companies under a multi-state federal investigation at the same time, and (c) may expose these companies to billions of dollars in lost value on the Stock Exchange as the scandal unfolds in the national and international media in the coming weeks.

What might lie ahead?:

We have confirmed that federal investigators possess a treasure trove of incriminating evidence against Joe Perkins and Matrix. A lot of this evidence is contained in handwritten notes authored by Perkins himself.

The scope of the incriminating evidence and the number of parties involved in the “dirty tricks” Perkins/Matrix performed for Alabama Power and Southern Company are breathtaking.

The question is not whether individuals will be indicted in the multi-state Matrix scandal, but how many and who will they be.

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