An Alabama state legislator will give up his seat as part of a plea agreement in federal court his attorney has confirmed to ABC3340 News.
The legislator stepping down is Fred Plump JR. He represents State District 55 out of Fairfield.
ABC 3340 News tried to speak with Plump at his office in the State House. Plump declined to comment and left the building before the house convened at 1PM.
Plump is in his first term and is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Plump is accused of funneling about $200,000 from the Jefferson County Community Service Fund back to an unnamed individual who works for another state lawmaker.
The money was intended for the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League. Plump was the Executive Director at the time. The alleged kickbacks happened between March of 2019 through April of this year.
Plump's attorney issued a statement Tuesday evening addressing the situation:
"For decades, Representative Fred “Coach” Plump has tirelessly and unselfishly given so much to so many at-risk inner-city youths through the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League, a community based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which he created. Through his passion for sports and dedication to the Birmingham community, he has changed the lives of countless young boys and girls. Although he did not personally profit, his heart was always in the right spot despite the clear errors in judgment for which he now takes full responsibility. Representative Plump will be resigning his seat in the Alabama Legislature effective immediately. Fred Plump appreciates and is fortunate to have the overwhelming support of the community he has served for so long.”
A statement from Michael Bryner, Attorney for the Jefferson County Community Service Fund Committee released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"Yesterday morning, the committee became aware of the information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. As laid out in the information, this fund was established by state law to disburse community service grants from the Jefferson County’s legislative delegation using the proceeds of a 1 percent county sales tax. The four committee members are selected by the Jefferson County state legislative delegation. It is the committee’s job to review the grant requests and decide whether to approve or deny those requests based on criteria contained in the law. Working in cooperation with the fund administrators, the committee has worked diligently over the years to perform this job with full transparency. Committee members have approved millions of dollars in grants to many schools, other public entities, and nonprofit organizations. The committee posts all grant awards and denials online at https://www.jeffcofund.org, along with the supporting documentation and minutes from committee meetings. The committee strives to ensure the process is conducted in accordance with the law and the committee’s operating procedures. While the law does not require recipients to report back to the committee about the use of these grants, the committee has never received any complaints that funds were misdirected in any way. Previously, the fund was asked to furnish its records to the authorities investigating this matter. The fund is cooperating fully with those authorities. The committee remains committed to making sure that these community service grant funds are distributed and used according to the law. As this is an on-going legal matter, the fund and its committee members will not have any further comment until all proceedings have concluded."
FULL NEWS RELEASE FROM THE DEPT. OF JUSTICE:
Representative Fred Plump Charged with Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice Charges and Agrees to Resign from the Alabama House of Representatives
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Representative Fred L Plump, Jr. has been charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice and has agreed to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James Dorsey.
A charging document filed today in United States District Court charges Fred L. Plump, Jr., 76, of Fairfield, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. These charges arise from an investigation of wrongdoing in connection with the Jefferson County Community Service Fund.
According to the charging document, in 2015 the Alabama Legislature passed Alabama Act No. 2015-226 (the “Act”) and authorized the Jefferson County Commission to levy and distribute a one percent sales tax and a one percent use tax to benefit the public welfare and enhance the education of the children of Jefferson County. Jefferson County began levying the new taxes in or about August 2017. The Act required the County to distribute the tax revenue according to certain specified priorities, including paying debt incurred during school construction, increasing the County’s general fund, giving funds to each board of education serving students in the County, and for certain other purposes set forth in the Act.
The Act created the Jefferson County Community Service Fund (the “Fund”), which was subsidized by approximately $3.6 million annually from the new taxes. The Act also created the Jefferson County Community Service Committee (the “Committee”), the four members of which were elected by members of the Jefferson County House and Senate delegations. The Committee was responsible for ensuring that the Fund was used only for the purposes set forth in the Act, which included to support public entities and projects such as schools, libraries, museums, parks, zoos, neighborhood associations, athletic facilities, youth sports associations, road construction, the performing arts, police departments, the sheriff’s office, fire departments, and certain nonprofit entities. Each Representative and Senator representing Jefferson County could make recommendations to the Committee of expenditures from their allotted amount of the Fund. These recommendations were made on a form created by the Committee that required certain certifications by the legislator. The organization receiving the funds was required to submit information about the organization and confirm that it intended to use the money for a public purpose. During each fiscal year from 2018 to 2022, each Representative was allocated approximately $100,000 and each Senator was allocated approximately $240,000 from the Fund.
The charging instrument identifies certain relevant parties. Legislator #1 was a long-serving member of the Alabama House of Representatives. Defendant Plump served as the Executive Director of the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League (“Piper Davis”), a nonprofit organization that claimed to provide a positive sporting experience for inner-city youth in Jefferson County. Individual #1 was Legislator #1’s assistant.
Between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2022, Legislator #1 was allocated approximately $500,000 by the Fund. Legislator #1 directed approximately $400,000 of those discretionary funds to Piper Davis. In turn, Plump gave approximately $200,000 to Individual #1.
The charging instrument alleges that from in or about March 2019, and continuing through April 2023, Plump conspired with others to defraud and obtain money from the Fund. It is alleged that it was part of the conspiracy that Legislator #1 recommended during each fiscal year that most of his allotment of Fund money be paid to Piper Davis. In turn, Plump agreed to pay kickbacks to Individual #1. Plump submitted false and fraudulent information to the Committee about Piper Davis’s intended use of Fund money. Upon receipt and deposit of Fund checks, Plump gave checks to Individual #1 for approximately one-half of the amount of Fund money received by Piper Davis.
The charging document alleges further that Plump, after being interviewed by agents and served with a grand jury subpoena, corruptly attempted to obstruct the investigation by sending Individual #1 a text stating “Red Alert” and meeting with Individual #1 to warn her about the investigation.
According to the plea agreement, also filed today, Plump agreed to plead guilty to the charges, pay restitution of at least $200,000 to the Fund, and resign from office immediately upon entering his guilty plea. The Court will set a date for Plump to enter his guilty plea.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorneys George Martin and Catherine Crosby are prosecuting the case.
An information contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.