Alabama AG: No 'credible evidence' ex-ALEA secretary misused state funds, case closed
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —
The Alabama attorney general's office says a grand jury has cleared former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier of wrongdoing.
The attorney general's office on Thursday announced a grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by Collier and is closing the investigation requested by Gov. Robert Bentley's administration.
Bentley fired Collier in March saying a review found possible misuse of funds. The findings were sent to the attorney general's office.
The attorney general's office said grand jurors found no misuse of money or a basis for initiating the investigation.
An internal Alabama Law Enforcement Agency report quoted employees raising questions about Collier's attendance and spending. Collier's attorney Kenny Mendelsohn called the report a retaliatory "sham" because Collier exposed Bentley's relationship with a staffer.
Bentley admitted making inappropriate remarks, but denied an affair.
Full release from Strange:
On February 17, Governor Robert Bentley placed then-ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier on sick leave for allegedly disobeying his instructions regarding Collier’s interaction with State prosecutors. Shortly after the Governor’s action, ALEA initiated a broad internal inquiry into Collier’s conduct as ALEA Secretary.
On March 22, Governor Bentley fired Collier, stating publicly that he relied on the ALEA inquiry in doing so. Governor Bentley and ALEA issued public statements that the results of the ALEA investigation indicated possible “misuse of state funds” and were being referred to the Office of Attorney General Luther Strange. That day, the Office of the Attorney General received the complaint and other information from ALEA.
To determine the facts with certainty, the Special Prosecutions Division of the Attorney General’s Office conducted a complete investigation of the ALEA allegations against Collier. For efficiency, and to ensure public confidence in the investigation, all of the information from ALEA was presented to the Montgomery County Special Grand Jury. Numerous witnesses, including senior ALEA leadership, were called to testify before the Special Grand Jury.
The investigation conducted by Attorney General Strange before the Special Grand Jury was a criminal investigative proceeding. In the course of the investigation, no witness provided credible evidence of criminal “misuse of state funds.” No witness provided credible evidence of any other criminal violation on the part of former Secretary Collier. Finally, no witness established a credible basis for the initiation of a criminal inquiry in the first place.
After receiving all of the information provided by ALEA to the Attorney General, and after receiving substantial additional evidence, the Montgomery County Special Grand Jury declined to act on the allegations against former Secretary Collier. For these reasons, the investigation of former Secretary Collier is now closed.