By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced in a written statement on Tuesday the conviction of Jimmie Clements to Theft of Property in the First Degree. This is the latest conviction in an ongoing series of investigations into the practices of the Alabama Two Year College System under disgraced Chancellor Roy Johnson.
AG Strange said, “Jimmie Clements knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over $256,000.00 from these two contracts which belonged to the State of Alabama in Lee County, Alabama. This case is an example of a complete violation of the public trust. The people of our state expect those who steal the public’s money to be prosecuted and made to return their ill-gotten gains. I am glad to see Mr. Clements finally brought to justice.”
The written statement explained, “In June 1996, DC & Associates was designated as the ‘exclusive agent’ for Southern Union State Community College (“SUSCC”) regarding Business and Industry. Jimmie Clements was President of DC & Associates. In 1996, Jimmie Clements, on behalf of DC & Associates, signed an agreement with Michelin North America, Inc. (“Michelin”) wherein Michelin would pay $3,000.00 per month to lease the Industry Training Center on the SUSCC campus. Michelin paid lease payments to DC & Associates which was money that belonged to the State of Alabama. DC & Associates did not give the money to the State.”
The written explanation continued, “In April 2002, Jimmie Clements, on behalf of DC & Associates, and Centec, Inc. (“Centec”) reached a similar agreement for $4,000.00 per month to lease the same building which supplanted the Michelin contract. DC & Associates did not turn over the money to the State of Alabama.
The AG’s office concluded, “Jimmie Clements knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over $256,000.00 from these two contracts which belonged to the State of Alabama in Lee County, Alabama.” In December 2009 both Mr. Clements and his wife, Dana, were charged with first degree theft. They were released from the Lee County jail on $20,000 bond.
In the plea agreement reached today, Mr. Clements received a 15 year suspended sentence with 5 years probation. He has agreed to pay $256,000 in restitution to the State of Alabama within 90 days, court costs, and $100.00 to the Victim’s Compensation Fund. As part of the plea agreement, the state dismissed its case against Dana Clements.
Attorney General Strange praised the work of all those who handled this case. The team that handled this successful prosecution included: Assistant AG Bill Lisenby with the AG’s Special Prosecutions Division, Assistant AG Stephanie Billingslea of the AG’s Criminal Trials Division, St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor of the 30th Judicial Circuit, District Attorney Robert Treese of the 37th Judicial Circuit, as well as Special Agents of the AG’s Investigations Division.
Jimmie Clements 76 is a longtime close personal friend of Roy Johnson (D). Clements was Johnson’s principal at Holt High School when the young teacher first ran for the Alabama House of Representatives with Clements’ support. Rep. Johnson rose to the postion of Speaker Pro Tem in the then Democratic Party controlled state house. Later the State Representative turned AEA lobbyist became the head of Southern Union State Community College. Johnson was the head of Southern Union at the time that Mr. Clements committed the deeds he has admitted to here. In 2002, Johnson would become the Chancellor of the State Two Year College System before a federal corruption probe successfully targeted him for his own criminal misconduct.
In the Johnson case U.S. District Attorney Joyce White Vance said, “For four years as the highest-ranking executive in Alabama’s system of two-year public colleges and technical schools, JOHNSON steered lucrative contracts to the individuals who would pay him bribes. He scoffed at the public’s trust and engaged in criminal conduct that involved elected state officials, college presidents, lobbyists, public employees, and numerous contractors.” “Prison is the just and necessary punishment in this case,” Vance said. “This office is committed to prosecuting anyone who steals from the taxpayers or tries to use a position of public trust for personal gain.”
Chancellor Johnson was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison and ordered to pay the state of Alabama $18,206,485 and surrender his Opelika home for his many organized criminal activities and theft of state funds. The federal investigation resulted in the conviction of 17 individuals on federal charges including bribery, money laundering, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. Those convicted include: former Southern Union State Community College president Joanne Jordan, former Alabama Fire College Director William Langston, and former state legislators Suzanne Schmitz, Bryant Melton, and E.B. McClain.