Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Why is law enforcement slow to act on identity-theft case involving stolen credit card belonging to attorney Burt Newsome and break in of his wife's vehicle?


The Newsome family at Christmas 2022

When someone, in August 2018, sent various clothing items and five sets of luggage to the home of Birmingham attorney Burt Newsome, our reporting focused on the perverse-threat aspect of the story. The  luggage appeared to be for each child in the family, along with one for their mother -- Regina Gauliulina Newsome. Was the message that the children and their mother should prepare for an extended trip, a "permanent vacation," you might say? Was it that they needed to leave because something unpleasant, such as a head-on vehicle crash that almost proved to be fatal, was going to happen to the family's husband and father?

While the exact message remains unclear, it clearly was not a form of "season's greetings." In fact, it appeared to be part of an orchestrated terror campaign that had been directed at the family, in various forms,  since Burt Newsome engaged in courtroom battles with powerful corporate, legal, and political entities in the state -- Alabama Power, Southern Company, Balch & Bingham, Drummond Company, and Matrix LLC. Of particular note is this: Burt Newsome became the attorney for former Drummond executive David Roberson, in a $75-million lawsuit for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation., and concealment. In essence, the complaint claims various entities combined to unlawfully make Roberson the "fall guy" in the North Birmingham criminal trial. When Newsome refused to drop the case or otherwise cave in, it apparently drew the ire of someone who wanted the matter to go away.

Another aspect of the luggage story -- one that involves an apparent crime -- has been mostly overlooked in our reporting, and now seems to be a good time to correct that.

The luggage and other items sent to the Newsome home apparently were purchased with Burt Newsome's stolen credit card. How did the card get into the wrong hands? That happened when someone broke into Regina Newsome's vehicle, via a smash-and grab operation, while it was parked at a Vestavia Hills fitness center. Much was percolating behind the scenes when the theft occurred, as we noted in an August 2018 post:

Regina Galiulina Newsome apparently was targeted while at Lifetime Fitness for a tennis lesson, according to her Facebook page. The incident, on July 30, came nine days after former Balch & Bingham partner Joel Gilbert was convicted of bribery in the North Birmingham Superfund scandal. It also came after reports of a possible RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) lawsuit related to Balch's efforts to essentially steal Burt Newsome's lucrative collections practice and ruin his law business.

Was Regina Newsome targeted in an effort to intimidate her husband into forgoing a RICO lawsuit that could expose some prominent political figures -- including former U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions (now Trump attorney general) and Luther Strange, plus Strange's one-time . . . campaign manager, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, . . . who [was] a lawyer at Balch & Bingham at the time?

Just yesterday, we learned from excellent reporting at Mother Jones, that Sessions and his office coordinated their attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Superfund case, working more closely with Balch than was previously known. Does that mean Sessions, too, could be connected to the intimidation campaign against Burt Newsome and his wife? That certainly is a reasonable question to ask. By the way, Jessica Medeiros Garrison used to work for Jeff Sessions, whose top two political donors long have been Alabama Power and Balch & Bingham. Could Garrison have been involved with, or have knowledge of, the intimidation campaign against the Newsome family?

Here is a key, overlooked point for now: Whoever made off with Burt Newsome's credit card committed a crime -- and local law enforcement seemingly has shown little interest in solving it. In an age when security cameras and cell phones seem to be everywhere, that is a particularly brazen act -- a crime with a high probability for being solved. But maybe the perpetrator knew he was not going to get caught.

The incident report, which can be seen at the end of this post, lists the crime as identity theft, a violation of Code of Alabama 13A-8-192. The offense also appears to match illegal possession or fraudulent use of a credit card under Code of Alabama 13A-9-14. The former is a Class C felony, and the latter is a Class B felony. Either way, it's a serious offense, and the public should be concerned that law enforcement does not seem to be taking it seriously. From the incident report's narrative:

On this date, 8/7/18, Regina came to the Sheriff's Office to report an incident of identity theft. Regina said that on 7/27/18, an order was placed via the shopping application GILT. The order was placed under Regina's login information on her account. The order contained miscellaneous children's clothing for boys and girls, as well as luggage and a tennis skirt for an adult female. The order total was $1,164.23 and was charged on a secondary form of payment, her husband's personal credit card, not her preferred form of payment. Regina was unaware of the order, and her husband was unaware of the charge. Regina's vehicle was broken into while she was at a private tennis lesson on 7/30/18. . . . Regina said her vehicle was the only one broken into, according to Vestavia Hills Police. Regina's husband is an attorney, who is involved in a number of high-profile corruption cases, and she seems to think this might have something to do with one of those since there was no men's clothing and no men's luggage in the order.

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