Defendants in Birmingham federal corruption trial found guilty on all counts
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —
A jury has found a coal company executive and an attorney guilty of bribing Former State Rep. Oliver Robinson.
Joel Gilbert, a partner from Balch and Bingham law firm and David Roberson, a vice president of Drummond Company, were found guilty on six counts including bribery, conspiracy, honest service wire fraud, and money laundering. Both men were accused of bribing Robinson to use his office to further their agenda.
Prosecutors told the jury Gilbert and Roberson paid Robinson to help them fight the EPA and its effort to expand clean-up efforts of pollution in North Birmingham.
U.S. Attorney Jay Town has said it was cheaper for the defendants to pay a politician than expensive clean-up bills.
“This case was not about the EPA. This case was not about pollution," Town said. "This was a case about greed at the expense of too many. The findings of guilt for these three individuals, by trial or plea, should forewarn anyone who would be corruptly motivated to act in similar unlawful interest. Voters deserve public officials who seek to represent them honestly and fairly. When elected officials, corporate executives or their lawyers violate our federal laws, they should expect to suffer the fate of these three guilty defendants. We appreciate the dedication of the federal agencies that worked tirelessly on this case."
Robinson already entered into a plea deal with prosecutors and testified against Gilbert and Roberson as part of the deal.
There were originally three defendants in the case. Charges were dropped against Balch partner Steve McKinney.
The Drummond Company released this statement following the guilty verdict:
We are disappointed by the jury’s decision to convict our employee, David Roberson. While we respect the judicial process, we consider David to be a man of integrity who would not knowingly engage in wrongdoing.
When an environmentalist group raised allegations regarding our operations in the Birmingham area, Drummond responded by hiring one of Alabama’s most well-respected environmental law firms. As testimony in the trial showed, we were assured the firm’s community outreach efforts on our behalf were legal and proper.
Balch & Bingham Managing Partner Stan Blanton on the verdict:
"We respect the trial process and the jury’s verdict. The jury determined that Joel Gilbert engaged in conduct that is contrary to the standards to which each of us at Balch & Bingham is committed and expected to uphold. Although our firm was not a party to the case, I and the rest of our partners, associates and staff are deeply disappointed in any conduct that does not adhere to our commitment to the rule of law and to the communities in which we are fortunate to live and work. We all greatly value the trust our clients place in us and have redoubled our efforts to earn that trust. Mr. Gilbert is no longer a partner with or employed by Balch & Bingham."