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Two men indicted for fake invoice scheme against Birmingham Water Works Board

Jessa Reid Bolling

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A federal grand jury indicted two men Thursday on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Jerry Jones, former vice president of Birmingham engineering and consulting firm Arcadis, and Mount Vernon Mayor Terry Williams were indicted for conspiring between December 2014 and January 2016 to create false invoices and submitting them for payment to the Birmingham Water Works Board for work purportedly performed on the Shades Mountain Filter Plant project, Birmingham U.S. Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. announced.

According to the indictment, Jones and Williams, who owned the Mobile-based company Global Systems International, LLC., created nine GSI invoices that falsely stated that GSI employees had performed work for a certain number of hours on the Shades Mountain Filter Plant project as an Arcadis subcontractor.

Jones sent emails to Arcadis employees to facilitate processing and payment of the fake invoices. Jones then submitted the invoices to the water works board that included a 10 percent premium that Arcadis was to be paid by the BWWB on top of the amount charged by its subcontractors.

According to the indictment, BWWB paid Arcadis a total of $255,300.10. Of that amount, GSI received $232,091.

“These defendants demonstrated a callous disregard for the citizens of Birmingham by stealing money meant to improve the Birmingham Water Works Board’s operations,” Town said. “Their breach of the special trust given to them makes their thievery even more intolerable. We appreciate the investigative work of the FBI and our partnership with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office in this investigation.”

The maximum penalty for the conspiracy charge is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

 

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Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science. You can email her at [email protected] or reach her via Twitter.

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Crime

Marshall says Moody officer’s death was not related to unrest

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall (R) issued a statement on the line-of-duty death of Moody Police Officer Stephen Williams late Tuesday night.

“I was devastated to receive the phone call late last night that another one of our law enforcement heroes had lost his life,” AG Marshall said. “I have been slow to make a public statement today because, after a record-breaking year of law enforcement deaths in our state, words just seem so inadequate.”

“Sergeant Williams was responding to a call for help at local hotel,” Marshall said. “He showed up, ready to assist, and was instantly shot dead. At this point, we have no reason to believe that Sergeant Williams’s shooting is related to the unrest we’re witnessing across the nation. Nevertheless, our state has been plagued in recent months by a lack of respect for law enforcement—most of whom are genuinely good men and women, from all backgrounds, doing an incredibly difficult job.”

“Whether black or white, law enforcement or civilian, we are all Alabamians,” Marshall concluded. “None of us benefit from lawlessness. As I shared with Moody Police Chief Hunt last night, my prayers and deepest sympathies are with the department and Sergeant Williams’s family. My Office stands ready to assist in any way that we can.”

There are two suspects in custody, a man and a woman. As of press time their identities had not been released. A suspect is expected to be charged with capital murder today, their identity will be released then.

“The investigation into the death of Sgt. Stephen Williams of the Moody Police Department is ongoing. The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office, JSU Center for Applied Forensics, and ALEA, along with numerous supporting agencies are currently conducting an extensive investigation,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray (R). “I would like to thank all of the assisting agencies who are too numerous to name who responded without hesitation to an Officer in need. I also would like to thank the citizens of Moody and all of St. Clair County for their outpouring of support for all Law Enforcement.”

Sources report that there was contraband found at the crime scene. Sergeant Stephen Williams and a police trainee were called to the scene by dispatch to the Super 8 Motel in Moody. They faced a barrage of gunfire almost immediately upon arriving at the scene. Multiple weapons have been recovered. Williams was later pronounced dead at UAB Hospital. An hours long standoff at the motel followed. Investigators were on the scene all day on Tuesday collecting evidence.

Stephen Williams served with the Moody Police Department for three years. During that time he was made a sergeant and led the Department’s night shift. Moody police chief Thomas Hunt said that Stephens won officer of the year. Stephens has 23 years in law enforcement experience with Moody, Bessemer, Alabaster, and Calera. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

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The Moody Chamber of Commerce announced that a Memorial fund has been set up for Sgt Stephen Williams at Metro Bank. You may make a donation at any Metro location.

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Crime

Second inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter

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William Hershell Moon, 74, died Wednesday at a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Corrections announced Wednesday. 

Moon, who was serving a life sentence at the St. Clair Correctional Facility, had a history of chronic medical problems, ADOC said in the statement.

He began exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 after returning to the facility from a local hospital and was tested and confirmed to have the virus, according to the statement.

An exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) extends its sympathies to the Moon family and his loved ones during this difficult time,” the statement reads. 

Moon became the second inmate in the state who died after testing positive for COVID-19. Dave Thomas, 66, a terminally ill man serving at St. Clair prison, died April 16 after testing positive for the virus. 

ADOC on Tuesday said four inmates who had been housed in the same area as Moon have also tested positive for COVID-19, and the area was placed on level-two quarantine, limiting those inmates to that area.

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The entire infirmary at St. Clair remains on level-one quarantine, in which inmates are monitored for symptoms and have temperature checks twice daily, according to ADOC. 

In addition to Moon’s death, ADOC announced four more prison workers have tested positive for coronavirus.

A worker at Elmore Correctional Facility, an employee at Fountain Correctional Facility, one at Kilby Correctional Facility and another at Montgomery Women’s Facility all self-reported confirmed cases of the virus. 

The new cases among staff make 72 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 20 state facilities. Twenty-one of those workers have since been cleared to return to work. 

Ten of 19 confirmed cases among inmates remained active as of Wednesday, according to ADOC. The department has tested 178 of the state’s approximately 22,000 inmates as of Tuesday, according to ADOC.

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Crime

Department of Corrections investigating two recent apparent inmate suicides

Eddie Burkhalter

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The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the deaths of two inmates last month and say both may have been suicides. 

Jamal O’Neal Jackson, 29, was found unresponsive in his cell at Holman Correctional Facility on May 15, and attempts to save his life were unsuccessful, ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose confirmed for APR in a message Wednesday. His death was the result of an apparent suicide, according to the statement. 

Casey Murphree, 49, died on May 18 when he was also found unresponsive in his cell at Bullock Correctional Facility of an apparent suicide, Rose said. 

Neither men were on suicide watch when they died, according to ADOC, and the exact caused of death for both are pending autopsies. 

The two recent deaths join numerous others among the state’s prison population.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has historically struggled to control violence, drug use and suicides inside state prisons, prompting an investigation and report by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2019 that found systemic problems in the overcrowded, understaffed facilities. 

Richard Jason Reed, 35, died May 2 at the Bullock County prison. No foul play was suspected and the exact cause of death was pending an autopsy, ADOC said at the time. 

Alvin Daniels, 68, died on April 25 at the Limestone prison. ADOC also said no foul play was suspected in his death and his exact cause of death was also pending an autopsy. 

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Alabama’s prisons are the deadliest in the nation, according to the Montgomery-based legal advocacy group Equal Justice Initiative

Alabama’s prison homicide rate is almost nine times the national average for state prisons, according to the report and U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics figures. 

In 2019, there was a record 29 deaths in Alabama prisons due to homicide, suicide and drug overdose, according to the ACLU of Alabama.

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Crime

Seven inmates, seven workers test positive for COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter

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The Alabama Department of Corrections on Tuesday said in a statement that seven more prison workers and seven additional inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Four workers and one woman serving at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women all tested positive for coronavirus, according to an ADOC press release. There are 16 confirmed cases among staff at the facility. 

The woman serving at Tutwiler prison continues to be asymptomatic and was tested pre-operation for a scheduled surgery, according to the release, which states she has been moved to “medical isolation” and the dormitory where she was housed has been placed on on level-one quarantine, meaning inmates will be monitored for symptoms and have temperature checks twice daily. 

Other positive test results came back for a worker at Ventress Correctional Facility, another at the Alex City Community Based Facility and Community Work Center and one at the Birmingham Community Based Facility and Community Work Center, according to ADOC. 

Four inmates at the St. Clair Correctional Facility who also tested positive for COVID-19 were living in the same small area within the prison’s infirmary as an inmate who previously tested positive for the virus, according to the release. That living area remains on level-two quarantine, meaning inmates remain there for all daily activities, and the entire infirmary at St. Clair remains on level-one quarantine.

One inmate at the Kilby Correctional Facility and another at the Frank Lee Community Based Facility/Community Work Center also tested positive for  COVID-19. 

The man serving at Kilby prison was housed in the facility’s infirmary, and was transferred to a local hospital after showing symptoms of the virus, where he tested positive, according to ADOC. Kilby’s infirmary has been placed on level-one quarantine.

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The inmate at Frank Lee developed symptoms of COVID-19 and was taken to the Staton Correctional Facility to an area under level-two quarantine, where he subsequently tested positive, according to the department. He was then taken to medical isolation at Kilby prison,  and the facility was placed on level-one quarantine. 

There have been 68 confirmed cases among prison workers in the state, while 17 have since been cleared to return to work. 

Ten of the 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates remain active, according to ADOC. As of Monday the state has tested 176 of Alabama’s approximately 22,000 inmates, according to the department.

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