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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Finally, I Get To Tell My Side Of The Story

Updated: Apr 25, 2018

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on April 21, 2018

After months of trying to get in front of a federal grand jury in Birmingham, Alabama, I will finally get a chance on Tuesday to tell my side of the story. This grand jury is investigating my businesses and personal affairs. This is the second grand jury to conduct such an investigation.

In 2015 and 2016, a federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey conducted a six-month investigation into the same businesses and personal affairs. The probe ended with no criminal charges filed.

The same businesses and personal affairs have been the subject of the following legal proceedings: (a) an American Arbitration Association arbitration proceeding that was stayed for several years and subsequently dismissed, (b) a federal court lawsuit in New Jersey that was dismissed with prejudice by the plaintiff (one of my business partners) after five years of litigation, and (c) a federal court “securities fraud” lawsuit initiated by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2016 against me that has stalled for lack of credible evidence of wrongdoing.

Looking for bailout assistance with its baseless lawsuit, the SEC pitched the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which quickly formed a task force of law enforcement officials from different federal agencies and launched a full-scale, blitzkrieg-style grand jury investigation into my businesses and personal affairs.

Unlike the extremely professional and objective approach taken by the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Birmingham U.S. Attorney Jay Town wasted no time in designating me as a “target” of the investigation. Town is a political appointee who openly campaigned for Senator Richard Shelby's re-election in 2016. Town was rewarded for his partisan efforts with a presidential appointment to the U.S. Attorney job for the Northern District of Alabama.

Town’s task force has questioned my business associates, close friends, ex-wife, former girlfriend, and a host of others who played a significant role in my business dealings during the past 13 years. Town has carpet-bombed my business environment with grand jury subpoenas directed to nearly everyone who has dealt with me in business.

Inside the law enforcement community, this is the type of blitzkrieg campaign and carpet-bombing that is reserved for mafia figures, drug kingpins, international money launderers, terrorists, and modern-day COINTELPRO targets. Because of my online brand of hard-hitting investigative journalism, I fit in the latter category.

On March 14, 2018, my attorney sent prosecutors a detailed Memorandum addressing and rebutting various allegations of wrongdoing that are the subject of the grand jury investigation. He requested that the Memorandum be provided to grand jurors because it serves as a comprehensive guide to exculpatory evidence that could be easily verified by business documents that are in the possession of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors refused to do so.

My attorney also requested an opportunity for me to appear before the grand jury. Prosecutors blocked this request in March. After he renewed the push for my grand jury appearance and cited the applicable provisions in the U.S. Attorneys Manual that authorize my appearance, prosecutors relented and agreed to my appearance. Even then, they tried to control what I would be allowed to say and what exhibits I could present the grand jury. Of course, I rebuffed their improper, self-serving limitations.

As an officer of the court and former Special Attorney General for the State of Alabama who handled major felony cases, I understand why the prosecutors in my case have shielded grand jurors from the favorable evidence highlighted in the March 14th Memorandum, and why they tried so hard to block my grand jury appearance. For months, these prosecutors have carefully screened potential witnesses and handpicked those individuals who would present anecdotal evidence to the grand jury in response to carefully worded, scripted questions about my financial transactions that were (a) taken completely out of context and (b) designed to paint me in the most negative light possible.

This kind of “prepackaged” witness testimony is designed to “poison the well” against a grand jury “target.” To be clear, federal prosecutors have the power to charge any person with a criminal offense by using a criminal complaint signed by the U.S. Attorney. Those prosecutors who seek political "cover" for mischievous conduct and improper motives tend to use a grand jury platform.

In order to carry out their abuse of power, rogue prosecutors will attempt to turn grand jurors against the “target” of an investigation by withholding favorable evidence and intentionally presenting a constant stream of one-sided, negative information that is designed to subtly prejudice the grand jury against the “target.” After the “well” has been sufficiently “poisoned,” prosecutors usually ask grand jurors to return criminal charges against this “target.” Sadly, this kind of prosecutorial abuse of power is typically done behind the closed door of a grand jury room with no one holding the abusers accountable for their improper actions. On Tuesday, I will finally go into the grand jury room and have an opportunity to present my business relationships and financial transactions in their full and complete context. My testimony is supported by hundreds of thousands of documents that were created and maintained in the regular course of business.

Under the modern-day COINTELPRO law enforcement initiative and blitzkrieg campaign against me, prosecutors have usurped the grand jury’s traditional independence and have impermissibly controlled the entire grand jury proceeding. The only way to stop this kind of abuse of prosecutorial power is to personally appear before the grand jury and present the relevant exculpatory evidence inside the “Lion’s Den.”

Unfortunately, we are living in an age where citizens can no longer presume that all federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and IRS officials are acting with professional integrity or with pure law enforcement motives. President Donald Trump has done an excellent job in exposing the fallacy of this presumption.

I look forward to meeting with the grand jury on Tuesday and defending my name, character, and business dealings in front of them. This, alone, is worth a trip into the “Lion's Den.”

PHOTO: I look forward to making my federal grand jury appearance in Birmingham, Alabama on April 24, 2018. I have been in the "Lion's Den" many times.

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