Democrat State Rep. Fred “Coach” Plump, Jr. has been charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice and has agreed to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James Dorsey.
A charging document filed today in United States District Court charges Plump, 76, of Fairfield, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. These charges arise from an investigation of wrongdoing in connection with the Jefferson County Community Service Fund.
According to the charging document, in 2015 the Alabama Legislature passed Alabama Act No. 2015-226 (the “Act”) and authorized the Jefferson County Commission to levy and distribute a one percent sales tax and a one percent use tax to benefit the public welfare and enhance the education of the children of Jefferson County. Jefferson County began levying the new taxes in or about August 2017. The Act required the County to distribute the tax revenue according to certain specified priorities, including paying debt incurred during school construction, increasing the County’s general fund, giving funds to each board of education serving students in the County, and for certain other purposes set forth in the Act.
The Act created the Jefferson County Community Service Fund (the “Fund”), which was subsidized by approximately $3.6 million annually from the new taxes. The Act also created the Jefferson County Community Service Committee (the “Committee”), the four members of which were elected by members of the Jefferson County House and Senate delegations. The Committee was responsible for ensuring that the Fund was used only for the purposes set forth in the Act, which included to support public entities and projects such as schools, libraries, museums, parks, zoos, neighborhood associations, athletic facilities, youth sports associations, road construction, the performing arts, police departments, the sheriff’s office, fire departments, and certain nonprofit entities. Each Representative and Senator representing Jefferson County could make recommendations to the Committee of expenditures from their allotted amount of the Fund. These recommendations were made on a form created by the Committee that required certain certifications by the legislator. The organization receiving the funds was required to submit information about the organization and confirm that it intended to use the money for a public purpose. During each fiscal year from 2018 to 2022, each Representative was allocated approximately $100,000 and each Senator was allocated approximately $240,000 from the Fund.
The charging instrument identifies certain relevant parties. Legislator #1 was a long-serving member of the Alabama House of Representatives. Defendant Plump served as the Executive Director of the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League (“Piper Davis”), a nonprofit organization that claimed to provide a positive sporting experience for inner-city youth in Jefferson County. Individual #1 was Legislator #1’s assistant.
Between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2022, Legislator #1 was allocated approximately $500,000 by the Fund. Legislator #1 directed approximately $400,000 of those discretionary funds to Piper Davis. In turn, Plump gave approximately $200,000 to Individual #1.
The charging instrument alleges that from in or about March 2019, and continuing through April 2023, Plump conspired with others to defraud and obtain money from the Fund. It is alleged that it was part of the conspiracy that Legislator #1 recommended during each fiscal year that most of his allotment of Fund money be paid to Piper Davis. In turn, Plump agreed to pay kickbacks to Individual #1. Plump submitted false and fraudulent information to the Committee about Piper Davis’s intended use of Fund money. Upon receipt and deposit of Fund checks, Plump gave checks to Individual #1 for approximately one-half of the amount of Fund money received by Piper Davis.
The charging document alleges further that Plump, after being interviewed by agents and served with a grand jury subpoena, corruptly attempted to obstruct the investigation by sending Individual #1 a text stating “Red Alert” and meeting with Individual #1 to warn her about the investigation.
According to the plea agreement, also filed today, Plump agreed to plead guilty to the charges, pay restitution of at least $200,000 to the Fund, and resign from office immediately upon entering his guilty plea. The Court will set a date for Plump to enter his guilty plea.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorneys George Martin and Catherine Crosby are prosecuting the case.