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Cooper Green administrator retires 15 months after arrest for child porn possession

Marc Sussman outside Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Aug. 21, 2018


  • An administrator at Cooper Green Mercy Health Services in Birmingham has retired.
  • That’s after we started asking questions about him staying on the job for more than a year despite an arrest for possession of child pornography.
  • Marc Sussman has been on the job—and flying under the radar—for 15 months at Cooper Green despite very serious charges.

Marc Sussman stood outside the taxpayer-funded Cooper Green Mercy Health Services just two weeks before he retired.

The facility provides primary, urgent and specialty care for Jefferson County residents who can’t afford to pay.

Sussman’s salary: Nearly $92,500 a year handling special administrative projects at Cooper Green. That includes preparing grant proposals.

Sussman was arrested at his Mountain Brook home in May 2017 on charges of possession of child pornography. He was released from jail after posting bond.

He was on the job, and drawing a salary, for more than a year.

Nataya Bailey is applying to be a Cooper Green patient.

“Honestly, it doesn’t settle well knowing that I have a 1-year-old son,” Bailey said. “And the type of charges that he has, he shouldn’t be in a facility like this .... at all, period.”

While Cooper Green doctors and nurses treat adults, not children, we still saw children with their parents or other adults walking in and out of Cooper Green.

Sally Barnes is a patient.

“It’s just terrible. It’s a horrible situation where a person could stay in power like that,” said Barnes.

Lt. Brooke Walker is the commander of the Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

She told us via email that the task force received an investigative lead from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

It involved the uploading of what she called “child exploitation material” through the social media site, Chatstep, that was “accessed through the internet at Sussman’s residence.”

Walker described the material as “the documented sexual assault on the child victims portrayed in the images.”

Walker says, “I can confirm that Sussman’s possession of the illicit images was not an accident and was not a pop-up.”

She also says, “We are confident we have the right house and the right person.”

So, why was Sussman on the job for so long despite the seriousness of the allegations?

Tony Petelos is the chief executive officer for the Jefferson County government. He wouldn’t discuss Sussman’s case because it’s a personnel matter.

Speaking in general terms, he says allegations of crimes off the job are very different from allegations of crimes on the job.

“In this country, you’re innocent until you’re found guilty,” Petelos said. “If any employee does anything inappropriate while they’re on the job—actions will be taken against them, period.”

Petelos would not discuss if any special arrangements were made for Sussman while at Cooper Green. But we’re told that Sussman’s office was on a floor that was separate from patients and children.

Meantime, Petelos spoke in general terms about employees using Jefferson County computers.

“Our computers are secured and if something happens, we’ll know it,” Petelos said.

Marion Walker is a nationally-ranked labor and employment attorney with Fisher Phillips—one of the largest law firms in the country.

I asked her about the county’s decision to keep Sussman on the job for so long.

“No. 1 is this happened on his home computer—allegedly of course. He’s been arrested, not convicted, and he’s not in jail. So, there’s nothing to prevent him from coming to work,” Walker said.

Sussman’s lawyer, Tommy Spina, issued this statement:

“As with anyone charged with a criminal offense in this country, Marc Sussman is presumed innocent unless and until he either pleads guilty, or is found guilty, by a jury comprised of 12 citizens who hear evidence presented by the government. My client is entitled to the same constitutional protections, as you and I would be if we were charged with a crime, regardless of the nature of the charge.”

Meantime we’re awaiting a decision from a Jefferson County grand jury about whether or not Sussman will be indicted.

Grand juries meet in secret. We’ll keep you posted.

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