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Featured Opinion

The Battle Lines are Drawn

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The courtroom battle that is The State of Alabama v. Michael G. Hubbard is not a contest between prosecutor Matt Hart and defense attorney Bill Baxley. It is covert warfare between Justice and Riley Inc., with consigliere Rob Riley as mastermind of the behind-the-scenes, mob-style tactics.

Last Thursday, use of those tactics became quite obvious when former State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson altered his testimony to aid Hubbard’s defense causing Hart to ask him, “Have you been threatened?”

Rob, the son of former Gov. Bob Riley, is believed to have directed Hubbard’s defense from the outset. It is also believed it was Rob who chose J. Mark White for the public relations phase of the defense, and Rob who schemed out the interlocking legal strategy that would lead to Baxley. It is Rob who has twisted arms to raise money for Hubbard’s defense, according to several sources, and it is Rob who is thought to be behind witnesses “softening” their testimony, and in some cases, change it, as did Williamson.

This trial is a war between a man who sees the world in black and white, good or evil, and one whose world view is colored by the privilege of power, situational ethics and a family dynamic that demands loyalty, even to crooks like Hubbard.

Rob sat in court the first two days of the trial taking notes and consulting Baxley during breaks in the proceedings. He was accompanied by his younger associate, Jeremiah Mosley, a tall, thin, boy-man with an overly aggressive handshake and a need to impress.

After Williamson shocked the prosecution with his altered testimony, Mosley asked this reporter, “How did you like that?” With this, Mosley broke an unwritten law in cheating: “Never gloat.” But like any amateur, with an oversized opinion of his own self-worth, the baby-faced Mosley couldn’t resist the need to have someone recognize his brilliance. Of course, Rob, his boss, was not there to tell the neophyte to keep his mouth shut. On Friday, neither man was in court. Perhaps they started their Memorial Day vacation a little early, after their coup on Thursday.

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Rumors abound that Riley Inc. has convinced others to “soften” or alter their testimony. Ferrell Patrick, lobbyist for American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), has been mentioned as one of the witness who may flip, as is former Rep. Greg Wren. According to those close to the Rileys, the plan is to blame Wren for placing the 23 words in the Medicaid portion of the General Fund Budget that would have given Hubbard’s client, APCI, a monopoly over the multi-million Medicaid pharmacy program.

In April 2014, Wren pled guilty to using his office for personal gain by receiving money to assist in the APCI scheme. Instead of serving a 12 month jail sentence, Wren was placed on a two-year probation and ordered to pay restitution for his crime.

In his plea agreement with the State, Wren said, he had participated in a meeting where “the Speaker of the House [Mike Hubbard] reviewed and endorsed the Co-op [APCI] Exclusive Language, Wren was informed by a lobbyist, [Ferrel Patrick], who had represented Pharm Co-op in those meetings, that the Speaker of the House had an ongoing financial relationship with Pharm Co­-op. The Speaker of the House had not informed Wren, or others who interacted with in those meetings, of that ongoing financial relationship.” These words are from Wren’s official agreement for a lesser sentence.

As part of his plea agreement, Wren also pledged to “waive the Fifth Amendment concerning all aspects of the charged crime, including, but not limited to the Defendant’s role in the offense, as well as the roles and participation of all other persons involved in this crime and all related matters, of whom the defendant has knowledge.” He further swore to “testify truthfully against those persons at any time requested by the State, including at any state or federal Grand Jury proceeding, forfeiture proceeding, bond hearing, retrial hearing, trial, retrial, or post-trial hearing.”

Patrick and Wren are the State’s star witnesses regarding Hubbard’s involvement in placing language in the budget to give his paying client a monopoly over the Medicaid pharmacy program.

Most court observers believe that Hubbard’s role in the pharmacy monopoly scheme was perhaps the easiest to prove and the most damning. Those close to the Rileys say Rob believes if he can kill this charge, then the others will be much easier to defeat. Perhaps this is why Mosley couldn’t help taking credit for punking the jury.

It is universally believed that Rob is smart and a cunning lawyer. It is also a fact that Hart is one of the best prosecutors in Alabama State history. This is an epic contest between men of different backgrounds, with dynamically opposite ethics and morals. The stakes for our State could not be higher, but Riley Inc., true to form, will place their racket’s interests above all else and damn the consequences.

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So, the battle lines are drawn and the future of our State depends on the outcome.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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