GOP legislator Greg Wren resigns, pleads guilty to ethics violation

Greg Wren's mug shot (Source: Montgomery County Sheriff's Department)
Greg Wren's mug shot (Source: Montgomery County Sheriff's Department)
Greg Wren speaks to the media following his court hearing as his attorney, James Anderson, stands by his side.
Greg Wren speaks to the media following his court hearing as his attorney, James Anderson, stands by his side.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Representative Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) submitted his resignation from the State Legislature and surrendered to authorities Tuesday morning. Wren then entered a plea agreement in Montgomery County District Court to a misdemeanor ethics violation relating to use of his office for personal gain.

WSFA 12 News obtained court documents listing criminal charges against Wren indicating the Special Prosecutions Division of the Alabama Attorney General's office is investigating "matters related to public corruption", specifically in regards to implementation of a pharmacy benefit manager program within Medicaid.

Wren's attorney, James Anderson said of his client, "It's an unintentional conflict on matters that he [Wren] shouldn't have acted on."

Wren told members of the media after leaving the courtroom that he was, "Kind of glad to have this behind me. It's been a difficult process, and I look forward to the future...and a change in scenery."

Court documents detail Wren's involvement with a scheme to direct Medicaid funds to a company to which he has personal ties, a LLC called "Wren & Associates". The company earned $8,000 per month from RxAlly in a consulting deal. RxAlly asked Wren to furnish confidential Medicaid documents that Wren would have only had access to through his official position as a legislator.

The court documents show a timetable that saw $24,000 go from RxAlly to Wren & Associates.

Wren's plea agreement, according to the Attorney General's office, shows the former legislator was given a suspended 12-month sentence, 24 months probation, and he must repay the Alabama General Fund $24,000, the amount he earned from RxAlly.

Wren sent a letter to the clerk of the House of Representatives Tuesday morning saying he was resigning immediately. Sources told WSFA 12 News the letter was "private and confidential" and a copy of it was not available. Governor Robert Bentley's office later provided a copy.

It appears the investigation is not over, according to a press release from the Attorney General's office.

"Former Representative Wren's guilty plea, negotiated in light of his acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with the State, marks a significant point in the ongoing investigation," said Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis. Davis is a supernumerary district attorney who was appointed by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to handle matters regarding an ongoing investigation involving potential public corruption in Alabama.

Wren's resignation and conviction come with just three meeting days left in the Alabama Legislature's regular session. Wren had already announced in January that he would not seek re-election when his term ends in November.

When reached for comment on how this affects the legislative session, Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) said through his private attorney:

"The matters related to Representative Wren's actions today do not involve or affect Speaker Hubbard.

Mr. Wren's actions will not stop or affect the work that is left to be done during this legislative session.

Speaker Hubbard has never failed to cooperate with any law enforcement authority.  Unlike his political opponents, the Speaker respects the need for the legal process to operate free of political influences.

Speaker Hubbard will continue to focus on the current session of the Alabama Legislature and his work in the House of Representatives."

Following Hubbard's statement, House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) added, "I believe Mike Hubbard's own words reflect what is taking place: 'The [state's] ongoing investigation and the subsequent arrest should serve as a referendum on the culture of corruption that has been prevalent in Montgomery' for the past four years."

Wren, 59, was a four-term veteran of the Legislature. He was first elected to the State House in 1994. He left the legislature between 2002 and 2006, but returned in 2006.

Wren's legislative positions have included chairman of the Joint Legislative Medicaid Committee. He was also chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures Task Force on Federal Health Reform Implementation.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.