By Chip Brownlee
The Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A Special Grand Jury empaneled to investigate former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier on Thursday cleared the former secretary of any criminal violations and said there was “no credible basis for the initiation of a criminal inquiry in the first place,” according to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
“In the course of the investigation, no witness provided credible evidence of criminal ‘misuse of State funds,’” Attorney General Luther Strange said in a statement Thursday. “No witness provided credible evidence of any other criminal violation on the part of former Secretary Collier.”
In a phone interview with APR, Collier said he felt a weight had been lifted off his shoulders after the conclusion of this drawn-out investigation, which he said has taken months out of his life.
“I knew all along that I did nothing wrong,” Collier said. “From the beginning, I welcomed an outside investigation. As I’ve read the attorney general’s release, it is pretty clear they dealt in facts — not rumors, not innuendo and not second- and third-person conversations. They dealt in facts.”
The Special Grand Jury empaneled by the AG’s office refused to return any indictments against Collier after Strange’s team presented findings from a criminal investigation they conducted into the allegations against him.
On March 22, Gov. Robert Bentley fired Collier for “possible misuse of State funds.” The allegations originated from an ALEA internal inquiry conducted by then-interim ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler and his team while Collier was on medical leave for back problems in February.
Stabler was appointed as ALEA Secretary after Collier’s departure.
Bentley forced the sick leave on Collier because the former secretary cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigation into former House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Against an order from the Governor, Collier signed a sworn affidavit with the AG’s office about the Hubbard investigation.
“During the State of the State on Feb. 2, Gov. Bentley praised me and ALEA and said we were the most efficient operation in state government,” Collier said. “Fifteen days later he put me on medical leave. What happened within those 20 days? I’ll tell you: I cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigation, which as a law enforcement officer I had an obligation to do.”
The broad, expansive inquiry into Collier’s actions while he served as the head of the State’s law enforcement agency occurred in his absence. The discredited ALEA report alleged Collier had violated agency policy by purchasing new suits and guns.
“When they talk about 15 pairs of pants, that’s where vendors come in and say, ‘if you buy seven, we’ll give you seven.’ They let you try them out. It’s called try and evaluate. That’s what that was talking about. They tried to turn that into something nefarious.”
Collier said ALEA does the same thing with body armor and body armor covers.
“I think they twisted the truth to fit a narrative,” Collier said. “They already had their narrative created.”
The report went on to accuse him of overusing prescription pain killers for back problems, having an illegitimate child, missing too much work and hiring his babysitter with no law enforcement background for a homeland security job.
Collier denies all the allegations.
Also hidden in the leaked report — which was part of a 1,600-page voluntary document dump to the House Judiciary Committee investigating Bentley for impeachment — were wild allegations that Collier had sexually assaulted a female employee of the agency.
Those allegations have now been retracted. The alleged victim, whose name has not been released, signed an affidavit to Collier’s attorney confirming that she never made the allegations against Collier.
“She called my family at 12:05, the night before that report came out, upset,” Collier said. “She said there are some things in there that are not true, that she didn’t want us to hate her. It literally took my breath away. It was so preposterous. When I spoke to her, she was adamant she never said it. They tried to get her to say it, with intimidation.”
Another woman, Ashley Cook, also today that the ALEA report contained quotes attributed to her that she had never said either. Her attorney said they had been falsified or taken out of context.
According to other reliable sources, there are others named in the report who are still on the fence about coming forward about fake allegations and made-up quotes. They fear retaliation from their current boss, Stan Stabler, the Governor or Rebekah Mason, his top aide and alleged mistress.
“Stabler was sent over to find anything to justify terminating me,” Collier said. “I have no doubt that the Governor’s office gave him instructions to go over and find any reason to fire me. … It was completely politically motivated. I think it comes from the governor, Stabler and Rebekah. I think she’s still involved.”
Bentley, in a statement Thursday night, said he was satisfied with the new direction of ALEA and with Stabler’s new leadership.
“Based on concerns presented to me by a member of the Alabama Senate and information that was given to the then-Acting Secretary of ALEA Stan Stabler, when he assumed his position, I felt a new direction in our State law enforcement agency was needed,” Bentley said. “The information obtained by the ALEA integrity unit was gathered and presented to the Attorney General’s office and a determination has been made.”