Former Alabama lawmaker pleads guilty in kickbacks case
The Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A former Alabama lawmaker accused of misusing state grant money by paying kickbacks to a legislative assistant pleaded guilty Wednesday.
Former Rep. Fred Plump Jr., a Democrat from Fairfield, entered the plea to charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in federal court in Birmingham. Plump resigned his seat May 31 as part of his deal with prosecutors.
Plump took about $200,000 of the $400,000 that was allocated to his Piper Davis Youth Baseball League by a state legislator and gave it to the legislator’s aide, prosecutors wrote in the plea agreement filed with the court. Plump was allegedly told by the assistant that he had to give the money.
“Plump understood that if he did not give half of the money to them, Legislator #1 would not direct Fund money to Piper Davis,” prosecutors wrote.
Court documents did not name the legislator, but Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat from Birmingham, has indicated it is him.
The payments took place between 2018 and 2022, before Plump took office. He was elected to the state House just last November.
Prosecutors said Plump tried to obstruct the investigation by texting the assistant “red alert” to warn her about the investigation.
Defense attorney Richard Jaffe said Plump, nicknamed “Coach” for his work in youth sports, has accepted full responsibility and “is committed to redeeming himself.”
“We are still baffled by the mistakes and misjudgments that ‘Coach’ made with respect to what led to these charges. How does someone, 76 years old, who has led an exemplary life of service where he and his organization have benefited thousands of disadvantage youth, end up in this predicament,” Jaffe wrote in an email.
Asked if the investigation is ongoing or if other arrests are possible, Jaffe said he was limited in what he could say.
“I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this discouraging turn of events but I am not comfortable giving any opinions about what the future holds,” Jaffe wrote.
Plump will be sentenced Oct. 23. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but court documents show that prosecutors are recommending a more lenient sentence as part of his plea deal.