Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks – Wade on Birmingham http://wadeonbirmingham.com News, features and essays about Birmingham and Alabama Thu, 01 Mar 2018 03:47:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2407551 Wade on August 2009 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/12/30/wade-on-august-2009-video/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/12/30/wade-on-august-2009-video/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2009 00:05:09 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=7310 A look back at all things and people and events 2009 …

Video: Bill Blount joins Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks
with a guilty plea.

Aug. 1 | We counted down the days to former mayor Larry Langford’s original Aug. 31 trial date with our greatest series ever, Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks. Seriously, look how many criminals we stuffed into one month …

Who didn’t make the list? Langford, convicted Oct. 28. And pipe maker McWane Inc., whose latest fine is $4 million.

Aug. 10 | A juicy morsel: Wade on Birmingham had the exclusive scoop on the exclusive screening of the documentary “Food, Inc.” P.S. We love our news tipsters.

Aug. 11 | The dirge continued as we presented the Birmingham Heritage Festival lineup and demise in the same day. P.S. Never piss off Ludacris. Ever.

Aug. 25 | Our Vote 2009 coverage kicked into high gear with our extensive look at the Birmingham city council and board of education races. Later, we had results from all 18 races, nine of which were headed to runoffs.

Aug. 27 | The end of August also means the start of our monthlong coverage of the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, with an in-depth look at the local films plus the opening night documentary, “Best Worst Movie.”

See all of our August coverage.

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Haiku flashback

football season: dear coach (Aug. 31)

Please take us to the
national championship
(or else, you’re fired).

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365 days of Birmingham’s best and worst: Wade on 2009

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: The HealthSouth 16 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/30/birmingham-biggest-crooks-the-healthsouth-16-fraud-conspiracy/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/30/birmingham-biggest-crooks-the-healthsouth-16-fraud-conspiracy/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2009 17:51:44 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5357 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

The HealthSouth 16

HealthSouthThe Securities and Exchange Commission accused Birmingham-based HealthSouth Corp. and its founder Richard Scrushy of a $2.7 billion accounting fraud in 2003. Two years later, Scrushy was acquitted on all 36 charges. But 16 HealthSouth officials were found guilty of fraud, conspiracy and other crimes.

Only eight were sent to prison for a total of 20 years and 2 months.

Angela Ayers, vice president of finance and accounting, pled guilty April 4, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and filing false records; sentenced to 4 years’ probation including 6 months’ home detention and $2,000 fine.

Aaron Beam, co-founder and chief financial officer, pled guilty May 6, 2003, to bank fraud; sentenced to 3 months in prison, 1 year probation, plus forfeiture of $275,000 and $10,000 fine. Founded the annual Beam’s Crawfish Boil in 1994 (now Schaeffer’s Eye Center Crawfish Boil).

Richard Botts, senior vice president in tax department, pled guilty Aug. 28, 2003, to falsifying company tax returns; sentenced to 5 years’ probation and 6 months’ home detention, plus forfeiture of $265,000 and $10,000 fine.

Jason Brown, vice president of finance, pled guilty in December 2003 to falsifying financial reports, sentenced to 1 year and 1 day in prison.

Hannibal “Sonny” Crumpler, CFO of HealthSouth spinoff Source Medical Solutions, convicted Nov. 18, 2005, of conspiracy and lying to auditors; sentenced to 8 years in Talladega Federal Correction Institution.

Cathy Edwards, vice president of asset management, pled guilty April 4, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and filing false records; sentenced to 4 years’ probation including 6 months’ home detention and $2,000 fine.

Catherine Fowler, vice president in the treasury department, pled guilty Nov. 24, 2003, to hiding the sale of another public company’s stock; sentenced to 2 years’ probation and $5,000 fine.

Emery Harris, assistant controller, pled guilty on March 31, 2003, to fraud; sentenced to 5 months in prison and 3 years’ probation, including 5 months’ home detention, plus $3,000 fine and $106,500 in restitution.

Will Hicks, vice president of investments, pled guilty Aug. 29, 2003, to conspiring to make false statements to auditors and maintain false books and records; sentenced to 3 months’ home detention and 2 years’ probation, plus forfeiture of $50,000 and a $2,500 fine.

Kenneth Livesay, chief information officer, pled guilty April 4, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and filing false records; sentenced to 5 years’ probation including 6 months’ home detention, plus forfeiture of $750,000 and $10,000 fine.

Michael Martin, CFO, pled guilty May 1, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud and to filing false records; sentenced to 3 years in prison, plus forfeiture of $2.4 million and $50,000 fine.

Malcolm “Tadd” McVay, CFO, pled guilty May 1, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud and to filing false records; sentenced to 5 years’ probation including 6 months’ home detention, later sentenced to 3 months in prison.

Rebecca Kay Morgan, group vice president of accounting, pled guilty April 4, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and filing false records; sentenced to 4 years’ probation including 6 months’ home detention, plus $2,000 fine and $235,000 in restitution.

William Owens, CFO, pled guilty March 27, 2003, to fraud; sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Weston Smith, CFO, pled guilty March 19, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud and to having knowingly certified false statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission; sentenced to 2 years 3 months in prison, 1 year probation, plus forfeiture of $1.5 million.

Virginia Valentine, assistant vice president of finance and accounting, pled guilty April 4, 2003, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and filing false records; sentenced to 4 years’ probation including 6 months’ home detention and $2,000 fine.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Lakendall Sims http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/29/birmingham-biggest-crooks-lakendall-sims-rape-murder-escape/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/29/birmingham-biggest-crooks-lakendall-sims-rape-murder-escape/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2009 22:22:02 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5356 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Lakendall Sims

Lakendall SimsPosition held: murderer, rapist, convict

Wanted for: all of the above, plus assault, escape, robbery, kidnapping, burglary and theft.

Date of conviction: January 2008 for rape; Jan 30 for murder

Sentence: Was serving 20 years for rape, now serving two life terms in prison for murder.

Criminally fun fact: Sims had been out on bail after being charged with rape in 2006, awaiting an August 2007 court date. In June 2007, he and three other teenagers — known as the Lipscomb Four — were charged with one murder, then a second murder.

On Sept. 16, a bailiff was taking Sims from the Jefferson County Jail to a courtroom in the Bessemer Courthouse when Sims asked to go to the restroom. He overpowered the bailiff, handcuffed him and stole his gun and his pants.

Sims walked out the front door of the courthouse, hijacked a van, hid out in a house and in the woods, but was recaptured the next day. He says he evaded capture by police in the woods by lying perfectly still.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: 16th Street Baptist Church bombers http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/28/birmingham-biggest-crooks-16th-street-baptist-church-bombers/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/28/birmingham-biggest-crooks-16th-street-baptist-church-bombers/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2009 23:20:03 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5355 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

16th Street Baptist Church bombers

Thomas Blanton Jr., Herman Frank Cash, Robert Chambliss and Bobby Frank Cherry

Robert ChamblissChambliss, also known as “Dynamite Bob,” led a secret cell of the Ku Klux Klan and was the ringleader among the church bombers. He was convicted in 1977 for the murder of four girls caused by the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church. Chambliss was sentenced to several terms of life in prison, and died there in 1985, still claiming innocence. Much of the testimony against him came from female relatives disgusted by his physical abuse of wife, Tee. Chambliss supposedly had help building the bomb from fellow Klansman Troy Ingram.

Bobby Frank CherryCherry worked as a welder, carpet cleaner and truck driver. A member of the Klan, he supposedly married five times and had 15 children. He learned how to work with explosives while active with the Marines. Cherry’s ex-wife Willadean Brogdon testified, “He said he lit the fuse.” He was convicted in 2002 of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He died there in 2004, but maintained all along on his Web site that he was innocent, a “political prisoner in the state of Alabama.”

Thomas Blanton Jr.Blanton has worked as a security guard at the Liberty Park subdivision in Vestavia Hills and a sporting goods sales associate at the Walmart in Hoover, as well as an aircraft mechanic in the Navy in the 1950s. A state investigator said that Blanton would wait in grocery store parking lots and put acid on car seats belonging to black shoppers so it would burn their skin on contact. The Klansman was convicted in 2001 of murder and sentenced to life in St. Clair Correctional Facility.

Cash was a truck driver and Klan member. In 1965, the FBI considered him a top suspect in the church bombing, but he passed a polygraph test. Cash was arrested on weapons charges a few months before the bombing. He was never indicted for the bombing and died in 1994 in Pinson.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Jack Montgomery http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/27/birmingham-biggest-crooks-jack-montgomery-judge-racketeering-extortion/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/27/birmingham-biggest-crooks-jack-montgomery-judge-racketeering-extortion/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2009 21:18:30 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5286 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Jack Montgomery

Jack MontgomeryPosition held: state judge, attorney

Wanted for: racketeering and extortion

Date of conviction: Jan. 4, 1994

Sentence: Montgomery faced up to 100 years in prison, but was found dead in the basement of his Vestavia Hills home 2 days before sentencing. His death was ruled suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound, but the gun was never found. Montgomery had to be declared legally innocent by the court, since he had not been sentenced prior to his death.

Criminally fun fact: Montgomery, known as the “Slamming Judge,” scared defendants by flipping a coin to decide sentencing. He once set bail at a record $9 trillion.

Montgomery claimed to have been tortured as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, but never served.

Montgomery took bribes from a drug dealer to fix trials until caught by an undercover Hoover police detective. Prior to sentencing, he broke his hip while running naked down his driveway and also wounded himself with a chainsaw.

Birmingham Post-Herald reporter Steve Joynt wrote about Montgomery in the biography, “Jack’s Law,” which Memphis’ Flashlight Films is developing into a movie.

(Hat tip: The Progressive Electorate.)

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Jeff and Jessica McCord http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/26/birmingham-biggest-crooks-jeff-jessica-mccord-murder-snapped/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/26/birmingham-biggest-crooks-jeff-jessica-mccord-murder-snapped/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2009 04:19:24 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5267 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Jeff and Jessica McCord

Jessica McCord, Jeff McCordPositions held: Jeff, Pelham police officer; Jessica, wife and mother

Wanted for: murder

Date of conviction: Jeff: April 15, 2003; Jessica: Feb. 15, 2003

Sentence: Jeff: two life terms in prison, eligible for parole in 24 years 6 months; Jessica: life in prison with no parole

Criminally fun fact: Jessica orchestrated the murders of her ex-husband and his wife over an ongoing custody battle. Jeff shot each one four times in the den of the McCords’ Hoover home. They put the bodies in her ex-husband’s rental car, then drove it to Georgia and set it on fire.

Jessica was about 2 months pregnant with her fifth child at the time of their arrest. A friend of the couple and Jessica’s mother were both convicted of perjury related to the case. The story became a 2007 episode of the reality crime series, “Snapped.”

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Jeff Germany http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/25/birmingham-biggest-crooks-jeff-germany-jefferson-county-commission/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/25/birmingham-biggest-crooks-jeff-germany-jefferson-county-commission/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2009 01:52:20 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5217 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Jeff Germany

Jeff GermanyPositions held: Jefferson County commissioner

Wanted for: misapplying county funds and conspiracy

Date of conviction: June 14, 2006

Sentence: 3 years 7 months in prison, plus repaying the county $126,860

Criminally fun fact: Germany funneled $479,990 in public funds through the nonprofit Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity to benefit himself ($25,000), his wife (a Mercedes), his ex-girlfriends and business buddies. Germany’s lawyer contended during the trial that the money went to constituents in his district.

Germany said, “If you’re saying I can’t help my friends, then the only people I can help are my enemies, and I’m not going to do that.”

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Don Siegelman http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/24/birmingham-biggest-crooks-don-siegelman-alabama-governor-bribery-fraud/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/24/birmingham-biggest-crooks-don-siegelman-alabama-governor-bribery-fraud/#respond Tue, 25 Aug 2009 04:21:57 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5162 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Don Siegelman

Don SiegelmanPositions held: Alabama’s governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state; Vestavia Hills resident after leaving office in 2003.

Wanted for: fraud (2004); bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice (2005)

Date of conviction: June 29, 2006, convicted alongside HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy; 2004 trial went nowhere after prosecutors dropped all charges on second day.

Sentence: 7 years 4 months in prison, 3 years probation, $50,000 in fines, $181,325 in restitution and 500 hours community service.

Criminally fun fact: Siegelman served nearly 9 months in a low-security Louisiana federal prison before being released in March 2008 on appeal bond. His case is under review by the House Judiciary Committee and was featured in a February 2008 episode of “60 Minutes.”

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Matthew Cloyd, Russell DeBusk and Benjamin Moseley http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/24/birmingham-biggest-crooks-matthew-lee-cloyd-russell-lee-debusk-benjamin-nathan-moseley/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/24/birmingham-biggest-crooks-matthew-lee-cloyd-russell-lee-debusk-benjamin-nathan-moseley/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2009 06:33:42 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5138 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Matthew Cloyd, Russell DeBusk and Benjamin Moseley

Matthew CloydRussell DeBuskBenjamin Moseley

Positions held: college students

Wanted for: arson, burglary, conspiracy

Date of conviction: Dec. 20, 2006

Sentence: 8 years in federal prison for Cloyd and Moseley, 7 years in federal prison for DeBusk; 2 years in state prison for all three men; $3.1 million in restitution; 300 hours of community service at the churches

Criminally fun fact: Cloyd and Moseley went on a two-night drunken arson spree in February 2006 that destroyed or damaged nine rural Alabama churches. DeBusk took part on the first night. The three said it started as a joke that escalated out of control. Two firefighters were injured while putting out one of the fires.

DeBusk and Moseley were students at Birmingham-Southern College, while Cloyd had transferred from there to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Birmingham-Southern established the Alabama Churches Rebuilding and Restoration Fund, which distributed more than $368,000 to the churches.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Samuel Pettagrue http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/22/birmingham-biggest-crooks-samuel-pettagrue-bribery/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/22/birmingham-biggest-crooks-samuel-pettagrue-bribery/#respond Sat, 22 Aug 2009 17:37:15 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5095 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Samuel Pettagrue

Samuel PettagruePositions held: pastor of Sardis Missionary Baptist Church

Wanted for: bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering

Date of conviction: Jan. 21

Sentence: 5 years probation, including 1 year of home detention, $366,000 in restitution. Prosecutors, who had sought 14 years imprisonment, voiced disappointment at the sentence, which took into account his numerous health problems.

Criminally fun fact: Pettagrue worked with state senator E.B. McClain, who passed along $760,000 funds to the community program Heritage to Hope Foundation, run by Pettagrue and intended to tutor high school dropouts.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: John Katopodis http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/21/birmingham-biggest-crooks-john-katopodis-city-council-jefferson-county-commission/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/21/birmingham-biggest-crooks-john-katopodis-city-council-jefferson-county-commission/#respond Fri, 21 Aug 2009 13:05:39 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5094 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

John Katopodis

John KatopodisPositions held: president of Birmingham city Council; Jefferson County commissioner; chairman of the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission; secretary of the Alabama Republican Party; co-founder of nonprofit organization Computer Help for Kids along with Richard Scrushy and Langford

Wanted for: mail and wire fraud

Date of conviction: July 1

Sentence: To be sentenced Oct. 28. Katopodis, convicted on 97 counts, faces up to 20 years per count and forfeiture of $162,910.

Criminally fun fact: Katopodis wrote a couple of books while at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government: “Resegregation in the South: the Case of Sumter County, Georgia” (1975) and “Pre-school in Sweden: The Formation and Implementation of a National Policy” (1977).

Katopodis was involved in the founding of Southside’s EPIC School and the McWane Science Center, as well as leading the drive for the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ current facility, opened in 1993.

He had a ring made with the Kennedy family crest on it to present to John Kennedy Jr. in 1995. Katopodis hid it in a pouch of Red Man chewing tobacco, telling Kennedy, “It’s redneck Cracker Jack: There’s always a surprise inside.

His downfall was from spending $250,000 of Computer Help for Kids’ $815,000 in donations.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Troy Ingram http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/20/birmingham-biggest-crooks-troy-ingram-16th-street-bapist-church-bombing/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/20/birmingham-biggest-crooks-troy-ingram-16th-street-bapist-church-bombing/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2009 20:22:08 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5093 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Troy Ingram

Wade on Birmingham - Birmingham's Biggest CrooksPositions held: miner, mechanic, Ku Klux Klan leader

Wanted for: making and planting bombs

Date of conviction: never prosecuted

Sentence: n/a

Criminally fun fact: Ingram met Bob Chambliss while working with the United Mine Workers. The two are assumed to have provided know-how for bomb making for fellow Klan operatives.

Ingram was implicated in several bombings, including the house of Birmingham civil rights attorney Arthur Shores, the 16th Street Baptist Church and a street in Titusville. Debris found from the Titusville bombs matched materials in his garage, and Ingram failed FBI polygraph tests.

He died in 1973 while driving a fire engine for the Cahaba Heights Volunteer Fire Department.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: E.B. McClain http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/19/birmingham-biggest-crooks-eb-mcclain-alabama-senator-bribery/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/19/birmingham-biggest-crooks-eb-mcclain-alabama-senator-bribery/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2009 22:57:00 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5067 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

E.B. McClain

E.B. McClainPositions held: State senator, representative

Wanted for: bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering

Date of conviction: Jan. 21

Sentence: 5 years 10 months in prison

Criminally fun fact: The Bessemer native and four-term senator passed $760,000 funds to the community program Heritage to Hope Foundation, intended to tutor high school dropouts. McClain received a 40 percent kickback, or $304,000.

After sentencing, he said, as a joke, “I guess I can learn how to play golf now,” referring to his likely prison, minimum-security federal prison at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. The prosecution sharply rebuked McClain’s quip.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Bill Blount http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/18/birmingham-biggest-crooks-william-bill-blount-jefferson-county-bond-swap/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/18/birmingham-biggest-crooks-william-bill-blount-jefferson-county-bond-swap/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 19:13:18 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5038 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Bill Blount

Bill BlountPositions held: Montgomery investment banker, handled Jefferson County’s bond swap deals

Wanted for: bribery and conspiracy, indicted with Al LaPierre and Langford

Date of conviction: today, admitting to bribing county commissioners Langford and Mary Buckelew.

Sentence: Sentencing date to be determined. Blount faces up to 10 years in prison for conspiracy and 5 years in prison for bribery (prosecutors wil ask for 52 months), plus up to $500,000 in fines. Plea agreement says he will forfeit $1 million. Blount is expected to testify in Langford’s trial.

Criminally fun fact: The government says Blount paid for several of Langford’s expensive purchases, including $11,750.40 at Bromberg’s Fine Jewelers and nearly $30,000 in 4 years at Remon’s Clothier.

According to the Press-Register (Mobile), Blount has had a tangled history of bond financing deals gone sour, from two 1995 deals for the City of Mobile that warranted investigation by the FBI and the IRS, and a state warehouse construction project from 2001 pushed by political pal and then Gov. Don Siegelman.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Richard Hawes http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/18/birmingham-biggest-crooks-richard-hawes-murder/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/18/birmingham-biggest-crooks-richard-hawes-murder/#respond Tue, 18 Aug 2009 15:45:34 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=5039 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Richard Hawes

Richard HawesPositions held: Atlanta railroad engineer

Wanted for: murder of his daughter May (found in East Lake) and his other daughter Irene and wife Emma (both found chained at the bottom of Lakeview Lake, now Highland Park Golf Course).

Date of conviction: May 23, 1889

Sentence: death by hanging

Criminally fun fact: Hawes’ triple homicide sparked national media attention for the young city of Birmingham. He married Mayes Story, of Columbus, Miss., shortly after the murders. His son Willie, living with Hawes’ relatives in Georgia, survived.

After the discovery of Emma and Irene’s bodies, a mob of 1,000 to 3,000 people came for Hawes at the county jail, but Sheriff Joseph Smith ordered his deputies to fire on the crowd, killing 10 people. A St. Louis circus owner offered to purchase Hawes’ body for his traveling sideshow but was rejected.

The episode is credited with transforming Birmingham from a wild frontier town into a law-abiding New South city.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Al LaPierre http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/17/birmingham-biggest-crooks-al-lapierre-lobbyist-democrat-director/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/17/birmingham-biggest-crooks-al-lapierre-lobbyist-democrat-director/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 04:57:54 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=4993 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Al LaPierre

Al LaPierrePositions held: executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party; lobbyist for the City of Fairfield and Jefferson County Racing Association; consultant to Montgomery-based Blount Parrish and Company for Jefferson County bond swap deals.

Wanted for: conspiracy and filing a false tax return, indicted with Bill Blount and Langford

Date of conviction: July 30

Sentence: To be sentenced Nov. 19. Maximum is 8 years in prison, but prosecution is expected to recommend 4 years, as part of LaPierre’s plea agreement and testimony in Langford’s trial. He also forfeits $371,932 plus taxes owed from 2003 to 2006.

Criminally fun fact: LaPierre promoted VisionLand (now Alabama Adventure) to state legislators on Langford’s behalf in 1996. His political action committees were among the biggest contributors to Langford’s 2002 campaign for the Jefferson County commission.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: James Bevel http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/15/birmingham-biggest-crooks-james-bevel-minister-aide-martin-luther-king-incest/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/15/birmingham-biggest-crooks-james-bevel-minister-aide-martin-luther-king-incest/#respond Sat, 15 Aug 2009 17:00:48 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=4994 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

James Bevel

James BevelPositions held: minister; member of U.S. Navy; aide to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Alabama project coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He suggested to King that children participate in the civil rights marches in Birmingham. The move eventually led to the police’s use of fire hoses and dogs to turn away protesters from Kelly Ingram Park.

Wanted for: incest

Date of conviction: April 2008

Sentence: 15 years in prison, but was out on bond because of poor health and died Dec. 19.

Criminally fun fact: Bevel was born in Itta Bena, Miss., to a sharecropping family and had 16 siblings. He fathered 16 children among nine women, and married four times.

His erratic behavior included: declaring himself a prophet in a hotel room and asking college students to drink his urine as a loyalty test; supporting claims of innocence by James Earl Ray, King’s assassin; and running for vice president in 1992 with presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche Jr.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Virginia Hill http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/14/birmingham-biggest-crooks-virginia-hill-mafia-bugsy-siegel/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/14/birmingham-biggest-crooks-virginia-hill-mafia-bugsy-siegel/#respond Sat, 15 Aug 2009 04:57:36 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=4995 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Virginia Hill

Virginia HillPositions held: Lipscomb native; waitress; alleged bookmaker, prostitute and blackmailer; Mafia “bag woman”

Wanted for: involvement in organized crime, tax fraud

Date of conviction: never convicted, though she testified before the Senate and later moved to Europe after the Internal Revenue Service sued her for back taxes. When asked by the Senate committee on organized crime why a mobster would give Hill so much money, she replied, “Because I’m the best —-sucker in town.”

Sentence: n/a

Criminally fun fact: Hill was one of 10 siblings. She was rumored to have secretly married gangster Bugsy Siegel. Two actresses have portrayed Hill: Dyan Cannon in a TV movie and Annette Bening in “Bugsy.” Her overdose on sleeping pills appeared to be an apparent suicide, but could have also been a Mafia hit.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Danny Ray Miles http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/13/birmingham-biggest-crooks-danny-ray-miles-federal-witness/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/13/birmingham-biggest-crooks-danny-ray-miles-federal-witness/#respond Fri, 14 Aug 2009 04:56:53 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=4973 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Danny Ray Miles

Positions held: bartender, felon and federal witness

Wanted for: murder, kidnapping and robbery

Date of conviction: 1977

Sentence: life in prison

Criminally fun fact: Born Danny Milar, Miles hid guns in his garage in Ohio before testifying against the gun-running operation. The Witness Protection Program moved him to Florida, then Birmingham, where he was given a job tending bar at Pat James Tavern on Southside.

He and Samuel Yarber kidnapped and murdered two men on Nov. 3, 1975. Police recovered 17 bullets from the bodies and the ground. Miles, denied parole in 2007, will have another parole hearing in 2012.

Barbara Bearden, sister of Miles’ victim Ronald White, co-founded victims’ rights group Victims of Crime and Leniency.

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Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Richard Scrushy http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/12/birmingham-biggest-crooks-richard-scrushy-healthsouth-founder/ http://wadeonbirmingham.com/2009/08/12/birmingham-biggest-crooks-richard-scrushy-healthsouth-founder/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2009 22:59:08 +0000 http://wadeonbirmingham.com/?p=4963 In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. Running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Richard Scrushy

Richard ScrushyPositions held: founder of Birmingham-based HealthSouth, TV talk show host

Wanted for: fraud and conspiracy (2005); bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud (2006)

Date of conviction: acquitted of 2005 charges, but convicted alongside former governor Don Siegelman on June 29, 2006.

Sentence: nearly 7 years in prison, then 3 years probation, $400,000 in fines plus up to $150,000 to repay cost of incarceration. On June 18, Scrushy lost a civil suit and was ordered to pay $2.87 billion.

Criminally fun fact: Scrushy set up a ministry in 2006 to feed African children and provide mortgages. He helped found the charity organization Computer Help for Kids with convicted former Birmingham pol John Katopodis and mayor Larry Langford; the charity employed gay porn star Ryan Idol as a computer technician for $30,000.

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