• Donald V. Watkins

Kevin B. Forbes and CDLU Are Fighting Public Corruption in Alabama

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on April 24, 2022


As Alabamians, we all owe Kevin B. Forbes, co-founder and chief executive officer of the 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 engrained 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.


Forbes Exposed Public Corruption in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama


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:


(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" 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 requests 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 over 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.


Open Questions


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' Written Complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice Took Courage


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.


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.


Epilogue


A grateful public thanks to Kevin B. Forbes and CDLU for the courage and tenacity they have shown in rooting out the engrained 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.



IMAGE: Kevin B. Forbes, President and CEO of Consejo de Latinos Unidos, Inc.

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