By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A Greene County Pastor has filed a complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission against Attorney General Luther Strange, after drawing a parallel with the Grand Jury investigation into Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard.
Rev. John Kennard, former Tax Assessor for Greene County and Pastor of the Hunter Chapel B.M. Church in Faunsdale, has asked the Ethics Commission to investigate Strange’s attempts to quash “perjury and lying” indictments against three individuals who were instrumental in the 2011 raid on gaming facilities in Greene County.
In his complaint filed on August 1, Kennard asked the Commission to determine whether it is ethical for Strange to superintend a case that directly involves defendants who were indicted by a grand jury for actions taken while under his command and authority; and whether it is ethical for him to attempt to quash indictments against the defendants?
In his complaint, Kennard states that the case against the individuals in Greene County is, “similar and distinguishable to that of the Mike Hubbard investigation.”
According to court records in the Greene County case, Lieutenant Gary Michael Reese and William Stanley Carson of the Alabama Beverage Control Board and Desmond C. Ladner, the State’s “gaming expert,” both made false or misleading statements in securing the search warrant to raid the Greene County bingo operations.
Judge Houston L. Brown, who was appointed by the Supreme Court at the request of AG Strange to oversee the warrants issued in the raid of Greentrack, later found that the testimony of the State’s witnesses had been false and misleading.
Judge Brown ordered that the property and cash seized during the raid be returned to the owners of Greenetrack.
Greg Griggers, District Attorney for the 17th Judicial Circuit, obtained an indictment for “perjury and lying” against Reese, Carson and Ladner. However, before he could bring the defendants to trial, Strange, using the legal powers of his office, removed the case from Griggers, jurisdiction.
According to the filings of May 28″, 2014, Griggers stated that the Attorney General had filed two motions regarding the indictments. One was a motion to compel him to turn over his files; the second was a motion to quash.
At the time, Griggers voiced concerns about the ethical aspects of both motions, due to the fact that the files contained information regarding defendants that were under Luther Strange’s command and authority.
The complaint contends that these actions by Strange constitute a “ blatant disregard for Alabama Ethics Laws.”
In the complaint, Kennard argues that Strange’s refusal to recuse himself from the case is a violation of the State’s ethics laws. He points out that Strange recused himself in the Hubbard investigation, giving the investigation over to a supernumerary District Attorney. Kennard asks in the complaint,
“Would it not be ethical for Luther Strange to choose a supernumerary to act on his behalf in the matter at hand, if fairness and honesty were truly the motives for his actions?”
The heart of the complaint asks, if it is ethical for AG Strange to be allowed to superintend and quash indictments involving defendants, who was indicted for following his directives?
Ethics investigations are a secret process. As for now, there are no comments from the Ethics Commission or the Attorney General’s Office.