Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office on Thursday filed charges against, Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins Sr. and his son Donald Watkins Jr. In a press statement, the U.S. Attorney’s office said the pair defrauded investors and a bank out of millions of dollars.
Each faces seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
Watkins Sr. noted his son worked for him during the period covered by the indictment. “My son is now an innocent hostage in this high-stakes political drama,” he said to the AP.
A statement echoed by his son who said, “In my case, the charges against me are completely unfounded,” the younger Watkins said in a statement released later Thursday. “Obviously, I was added as a defendant in this case to put pressure on my father. But it will not work because I have never done anything illegal and neither has my father. And we will prove it when the time comes.”
According to the AP, “The indictment alleges that from 2007 until 2014, the pair induced investors to pay millions into an account that was supposed to grow two companies they were associated with. According to the indictment, the money was used for other costs, including alimony and clothing.”
Watkins Sr. wrote a blog post on his personal website addressing the indictment Thursday:
To secure today’s indictment, federal prosecutors in Birmingham and Washington had to: (a) present misleading and incomplete evidence to the grand jury, (b) ignore the plain language of bona fide business agreements and controlling principles of contract law, (c) “twist” important documentary evidence to support their theory, (d) present witnesses who provided scripted testimony to fit a pre-determined and distorted narrative, and (e) disregard a mountain of exculpatory evidence that favored my son and me.
… The charges in the indictment are merely allegations. My son and I are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. I am confident that my son and I will defeat the bogus criminal charges against us.
The pair are charged with conspiring to obtain loans from Alamerica Bank using an allegedly fraudulent scheme involving the use of a third party to take out the loans on their behalf, according to the statement.
“Persons who defraud investors through material misrepresentations, omissions, and lies must be held accountable,”lead prosecutor Lloyd Peeples said in a press statement. “As set forth in today’s indictment, the defendants mislead numerous individual investors and used their investments for unrelated purposes.”
Watkins Sr. claims he’s confident he and his son will beat the allegations made against them.
“The allegations in the indictment represent a politically motivated and self-serving narrative to portray my son and me in the most negative light possible,” said Watkins Sr. in this blog post. “The charges in the indictment are merely allegations. My son and I are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. I am confident that my son and I will defeat the bogus criminal charges against us.”
The AP content contributed to this report.