Alabama lawmaker resigns after federal conspiracy, obstruction charges

State Rep. Fred Plump Jr. has resigned amid conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 11:52 AM CDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 10:27 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - An Alabama state lawmaker has agreed to resign after being charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice by the U.S. Department of Justice. State Rep. Fred L. Plump Jr., 76, D-Fairfield, agreed to step down from office, according to U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, FBI Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples, and IRS, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James Dorsey.

Plump is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. The charges stem from an investigation of wrongdoing in connection with the Jefferson County Community Service Fund.

According to the DOJ’s 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.

The county started levying the new taxes around August 2017. The legislation 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.

The legislation created the JCCS Fund, which was subsidized by approximately $3.6 million annually from the new taxes. It also created a committee of four members elected by members of the Jefferson County House and Senate delegations, which was responsible for making sure the money was used as the legislation required, including 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. During each fiscal year from 2018 to 2022, each representative was allocated approximately $100,000 and each senator approximately $240,000.

According to the DOJ, Plumb served as the executive director of a nonprofit youth baseball league based in Jefferson County focused on giving inner-city youth a positive sporting experience.

Between 2018 and 2022, a long-serving Alabama state representative, identified as “Legislator #1″ in charging documents, was allocated a half-million dollars by the JCCS Fund and then directed 80% of the discretionary money to the youth league. The DOJ says Plump then gave approximately $200,000 to a person listed as “Individual #1,″ whom the DOJ indicated was “Legislator #1′s” assistant.

DOJ alleges that from March 2019 to about April 2023, Plump conspired with others to defraud and obtain money from the JCSS Fund and DOJ alleges that it was part of the conspiracy that Legislator #1 recommended during each fiscal year that most of his allotment of JCSS Fund money be paid to the youth league.

In turn, Plump agreed to pay kickbacks to Individual #1. Plump submitted false and fraudulent information to the JCSS Committee about the youth league’s intended use of the fund money. Upon receipt and deposit of fund checks, Plump gave checks to Individual #1 for approximately half of the amount of fund money received by the youth league.

The DOJ further alleges 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 Tuesday, Plump agreed to plead guilty to the charges, pay restitution of at least $200,000 to the JCSS 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 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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