On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that State Representative Fred “Coach” Plump has been indicted for conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
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 announced that the freshman Democratic lawmaker from Fairfield plans to resign his seat in the Alabama House of Representatives. Plump’s resignation has been confirmed by the Alabama Media Group talking to Plump’s attorney Richard Jaffe.
“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,” Jaffe told the Alabama Media Group. “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.”
The federal government is accusing Plump of stealing money from taxpayers, paying kickbacks to a legislative assistant, and then obstructing justice by informing the assistant of the investigation after he was contacted by federal agents.
A second member of the House of Representatives is also involved in this conspiracy.
State Rep. John Rogers, a Birmingham Democrat, told the Alabama Media Group that he is probably the State Representative number one referred to in the DOJ statement. Rogers denies having done anything wrong.
Rogers was not actually named in the statement. Plump is accused of then sharing some of the misappropriated dollars with a legislator’s assistant.
The legislature budgeted money that individual legislators can give out as checks around their districts without going through the budgeting process or any sort of legislative oversight. Members of the Alabama House of Representatives get $100,000 to ingratiate themselves in their districts, while State Senators get $250,000.
When Republicans initially took over control of the Alabama Statehouse in 2010, they initially eliminated the practice of allowing legislators to “play Santa Claus” around their districts with little or no oversight. Since then, the practice has been restored and expanded at the urging of the membership.
Representative number one (Rogers) was given $500,000 from 2019 to 2023 through the community grants program.
$400,000 of that money went to the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League, where Coach Plump was the executive director. Plump apparently took much of that money for his own personal use as well as to pay a kickback to the legislative assistant.
The DOJ says that Plump has agreed to plead guilty and pay $200,000 in restitution.
Plump narrowly unseated veteran lawmaker Rep. Rod Scott in the Democratic primary runoff last year. Scott was targeted by his fellow House Democrats because Democratic leadership accused Scott of being too bipartisan and not sufficiently loyal to the Democratic Caucus.
The controversial legislative grant program remains in the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget which will be voted on in committee on Wednesday despite the corruption scandal.
Wednesday will be day 25 of the 2023 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.
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