By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published on August 11, 2018
If President Donald Trump wants a legitimate reason to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he need look no further than the criminal investigation rogue federal prosecutors in Birmingham have been conducting in my case since October 2017. Rosenstein has permitted Lloyd Peeples, the First Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and his sidekick, Assistant United States Attorney Xavier Carter, to engage in widespread lawlessness while conducting a grand jury investigation that has violated countless Justice Department guidelines.
In reality, Peeples has used my case to resurrect the old Alabama State Sovereignty Commission (1963 to 1973) within the present-day Birmingham U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Sovereignty Commission functioned as a state-sponsored intelligence agency that spied on Alabamians suspected of sympathizing with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 70s. Its targets included law abiding school teachers, factory workers, businessmen/women, and ministers, among others. The Commission kept lists of suspected activists and did everything within its power to destroy them (e.g., getting suspects fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes, disrupting their lives with trumped-up criminal charges, and causing them financial distress). The only thing that has changed since the Sovereignty Commission’s heyday and its resurrection in the Birmingham U.S. Attorney’s Office is the names of its new members.
How Peeples’ Lawlessness Got Started
Peeples’ investigation in my case commenced with a review of the same “securities fraud” allegations that Andrew Kogan, the highly respected Chief of the Economic Crimes Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey investigated for six-months in 2015 and 2016. Kogan's investigation was based upon a complaint by a disgruntled New Jersey-based stakeholder in one of my businesses who filed a civil lawsuit in 2013 and dismissed it, with prejudice, in 2017. The New Jersey prosecutors, who have far more experience in investigating and prosecuting economic crimes than Peeples, closed their investigation after finding no wrongdoing on my part.
Peeples, who was operating a Homewood, Alabama pizza parlor when he was tapped for the top assistant’s job in October of 2017, basically runs the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham. Jay E. Town, who became U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama on August 17, 2017, lives in Huntsville and rarely works in Birmingham.
President Donald Trump's White House vetted Town for the U.S. Attorney’s job prior to his appointment to the position. Town was confirmed for the job by the U.S. Senate.
Peeples, who is the surrogate U.S. Attorney, was never vetted for the top job by the Trump Administration and he did not need Senate confirmation for his position. Yet, Peeples is running the office while Town sits in Huntsville each day wallowing in partisan politics while drawing a full-time salary as U.S. Attorney.
Peeples has authored and published news articles that are openly hostile to women and minorities. These articles were exposed recently in my article titled, “A Pizza Man is Leading the Charge”.
Peeples has attempted to sanitize his hostility toward minorities by collaborating with Xavier Carter, an African-American prosecutor who has zero experience in investigating or prosecuting economic crimes. Carter dutifully fulfills the role played by the “Jewish Ghetto Police” in Nazi Germany by doing exactly what Peeples tells him to do, whether it violates Justice Department guidelines or not.
All of these COINTELPRO-era activities are happening underneath the nose of Rod Rosenstein, who knows or should reasonably know about all of them.
When the SEC announced in July that it was dropping two-thirds of its baseless “securities fraud” allegations against me (with the remaining one-third hanging on by a thread), Lloyd Peeples shifted the focus of his investigation toward manufacturing a criminal case around frivolous allegations of “bank fraud”. Peeples has tried to give life to so-called Regulation O allegations in a FDIC investigation that resulted from a direct order from former Alabama governor Robert Bentley to former Alabama Bank Superintendent John Harrison in 2013 to run me out of the banking business. This gubernatorial order is described in “Surviving Hatred in Alabama”.
As an accommodation to the Alabama Banking Department, the FDIC trumped-up baseless allegations that accused me of an “apparent” Regulation O violation with respect to a loan Birmingham-based Alamerica Bank made to one of my business partners and a loan the bank made to one of my sons. Regulation O governs bank loans to executives and directors of the bank. I was chairman of the bank at the time these loans were made, but I played no role in the loan intake, bank underwriting and due diligence process, or approval process. Additionally, I complied with all known business affiliation disclosure reporting requirements, before, during, and after my bank charter was issued.
For the past five years, the FDIC has steadfastly refused to recognize that the loans in question fell squarely within the well-known, published exceptions to Regulation O. The FDIC has recognized these exceptions for similarly situated bank officers and directors at other regulated banking institutions. My request for equal treatment irritated bank regulators, who described this request as “buffoonery” on my part.
Given Lloyd Peeples’ regressive views on women and minorities, he welcomed the chance to conduct a full-scale criminal investigation on a regulatory issue that has stalled in an FDIC administrative proceeding that was convened for the purpose of determining whether a Regulation O violation occurred in the first place.
A "Witch Hunt" in Birmingham
Last Tuesday, Lloyd Peeples expanded his criminal investigation to include a probe of First Highland Group, LLC (“FHG”), which is my real estate development company. Peeples subpoenaed all of the financial records relating to FHG. Like the other transactions Peeples has investigated, his probe of FHG will be a complete waste of time, resources, and taxpayers’ dollars.
Because he is a rogue prosecutor who is trying to manufacture a crime (as opposed to investigating one), Peeples has made a litany of elementary mistakes in the case. His probe of the FHG financial transactions presumably grows out of a lawsuit initiated by FHG’s former mortgage lender and a counterclaim filed by FHG against this lender regarding certain lender liability claims. These claims and counterclaims were litigated from 2013 to 2018. The case never proceeded to a trial and no liability was ever adjudicated on any of the claims or counterclaims. The parties in the case eventually resolved their differences in an amicable fashion. On July 3, 2018, all of the claims and counterclaims in the case were dismissed, with prejudice. Yet, Peeples is trolling the FHG financial documents like a scavenger looking for pizza crust crumbs to eat.
At this juncture, Lloyd Peeples is conducting what President Trump calls a "witch hunt". His SEC case has collapsed. His FDIC case is going nowhere fast. His FHG case is dead on arrival. He has hoodwinked and misled a federal grand jury for many months with a presentation of one-sided, cherry-picked, anecdotal information that disintegrates under the bright light of the pertinent documentary evidence for the financial transactions in question. Peeples does not have the professionalism, objectivity, or manhood to conduct himself like the reputable New Jersey federal prosecutors who conducted a full, fair, and objective review of the evidence and closed their investigation. Instead, Peeples is acting like an erratic pizza parlor operator with a personal axe to grind.
Rod Rosenstein, either through negligence in supervision or a reckless disregard for the integrity of the Justice Department’s guidelines for handling criminal cases, has allowed Peeples’ rogue conduct and prosecutorial abuse in my case to flourish. He has done absolutely nothing to stop this prosecutorial abuse. If Rod Rosenstein cannot “police” a "tainted" rogue federal prosecutor in Birmingham, Alabama who is actually a “stand-in” for a “figurehead” U.S. Attorney, then he deserves to be fired, immediately.
PHOTO: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein