ASU paid more than $300K in legal fees since Jan. - Montgomery Alabama news.

ASU paid more than $300K in legal fees since Jan.


Alabama State University has spent more than $310,000 in legal fees related to a forensic examination of its finances since January.

WSFA 12 News filed an open records request Oct. 18 asking for all invoices and copies of checks to the firms of Melton Espy Williams P.C., Copeland Screws Franco & Gil P.A. and White Arnold & Dowd P.C.

Overall, ASU has spent $312,192.49 on legal fees since January relating to the forensic audit.

ASU provided WSFA 12 News with financial records as well as redacted invoices. Attorneys for ASU cited attorney-client privilege as the reason for the redacted documents.

[DOCUMENT: ASU Redacted Invoices (.pdf)]

ASU employed the three firms to assist during the forensic audit process. Attorneys Joe Espy, Bobby Segall, and Judge U.W. Clemon were all copied on correspondence between ASU and the governor's office at different junctures of the audit process.

ASU has retained Judge Clemon, a former Federal District Judge in Birmingham, the longest. Payments to Clemon's firm, White Arnold & Dowd started on March 15. White Arnold & Dowd has received $244,763.33 -- by far the most money from ASU since January.

[DOCUMENT: Payments to White Arnold & Dowd P.C. (.pdf)]

Clemon's firm specifically handled most matters relating to the forensic audit including the furnishing of documents to the firm Forensic Strategic Solutions, the scheduling of interviews and correspondence with forensic auditors.

Bobby Segall and Joe Espy were carbon copied on letters sent to and from Dr. William Harris, ASU's interim president, and Gov. Robert Bentley.

The firm of Melton Espy Williams received $51,419.95 for legal services.

[DOCUMENT: Payments to Melton Espy Williams P.C. (.pdf)]

Copeland Franco Screws & Gill received $16,010.16.

[DOCUMENT: Payments to Copeland Franco Screws & Gill P.A. (.pdf)]

WSFA's request did not include invoices for services or copies of checks for the month of October.

ASU has been the subject of a forensic financial investigation since January after the university's former president of just two months, Dr. Joseph Silver, raised questions and concerns of financial wrongdoing at the university.

Auditors provided Gov. Bentley a preliminary report of their findings, which included allegations and evidence of possible fraud, financial mismanagement, and conflicts of interest by three current and former members of the ASU Board of Trustees.

Gov. Bentley has since turned over the findings by FSS to Alabama's Attorney General and to federal authorities.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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