Convicted AL house speaker speeds from jailhouse in bail bondsman's Corvette
OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - Political power slipped from Mike Hubbard's hands Friday afternoon as a judge read the verdict on 23 felony ethics counts against him. One of the most - if not the most - powerful politicians in the state had to know that just a single count's conviction would automatically remove him from office. The broom used to drive him out was knitted together with straw from sweeping ethics laws Hubbard, himself, helped champion.
The first four counts passed with "not guilty", a good sign for the defendant. And there would be plenty more of the same before the jury's short time of deliberating produced all its fruit. But the fifth was all it took to effectively end Hubbard's career as Alabama Speaker of the House.
His head slumped down. The Republican representative from Lee County who led the GOP's supermajority sweep of the statehouse in 2010, and who won re-election despite being under indictment, would have to listen as 11 more times the word "guilty" echoed toward the defense table where his attorney held an arm across his shoulder.
Following the verdict, Lee County Sheriff's deputies who monitored security at the courtroom doors throughout the trial stepped from their position and met Hubbard as the courtroom's occupants stood to exit. Hubbard was taken into custody, though never placed in handcuffs, and escorted from the room.
Judge Jacob Walker set Hubbard's bond at $160,000 ($20K each on the first five counts, $10K on the second five counts, and $5K on the last two counts). It was then up to Hubbard, a successful politician prosecutors said was greedy for cash despite pulling in more than $31,000 per month, to come up with the funds to be released.
What specifically happened in the recesses of the Justice Center's offices during Hubbard's processing are not known, but Hubbard found the funds he needed and opted out of spending any time in one of Alabama's jails. It's likely he had to surrender his passport as a condition of bond.
For a man who rarely missed an opportunity to speak before the cameras, Hubbard opted against meeting with the throng of waiting media. In what appears to have been a calculated move, the disgraced politician's attorneys emerged from the building, jumped into an SUV and sped away. As it's normally the case that the client leaves with the attorney, multiple media outlets followed.
However, just before 11 p.m., Hubbard emerged from the facility, jumped into his bail bondsman's black Corvette, and peeled grass (literally) as the sports car sped into the night. It's not clear where the car went, but it's safe to assume it carried them to Hubbard's nearby home.
Hubbard will be back in court on July 8 for sentencing. His attorney's say they will appeal the verdict, though they've yet to say on what grounds.
Four days past Independence Day, Hubbard will learn the extent of his own freedom and what the crimes he's convicted of committing will cost him. He faces a maximum penalty of two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $30,000 for each count.
Here is a summary of the 23 charges.
COUNT 1: [NOT GUILTY] Used position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money or business for Craftmaster Printers.
COUNT 2: [NOT GUILTY] Used his position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money or business for Auburn Network.
COUNT 3: [NOT GUILTY] Used his position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money for Craftmaster Printers (through Majority Strategies).
COUNT 4: [NOT GUILTY] Used his position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money for Auburn Network (through the Howe Group)
COUNT 5: [GUILTY] As a member of the House voted for Senate Bill 143 and knew he had a conflict of interest
COUNT 6: [GUILTY] As a member of the House solicited or received money from APCI from a lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist or principal (APCI)
COUNT 7: [NOT GUILTY] Used his position as a member of House to obtain money from SEAGD for Auburn Network
COUNT 8: [ NOT GUILTY] As a member of the House received compensation from SEAGD to represent SEAGD before the Alabama Dept. of Commerce
COUNT 9: [NOT GUILTY] As a member of the House received compensation from SEAGD to represent SEAGD before the Governor
COUNT 10: [GUILTY ] As a member of the House solicited or received money from Edgenuity and/or E2020 for Auburn Network
COUNT 11: [GUILTY] Used his position as a member of the House to obtain money from Robert Abrams (CV Holdings) for Auburn Network
COUNT 12: [GUILTY ] As a member of House received compensation from Robert Abrams (CV Holdings) to represent Abrams before the Alabama Dept. of Commerce
COUNT 13: [GUILTY ] As a member of the House received compensation from Robert Abrams (CV Holdings) to represent Abrams before the Governor
COUNT 14:[GUILTY] As a member of the House used public property for the benefit of Robert Abrams for Hubbard’s (Auburn Network’s) financial interest
COUNT 15: [NOT GUILTY] As a member of the House solicited an investment in Craftmaster Printers from Dax Swatek (lobbyist)
COUNT 16: [GUILTY] Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from Will Brooke (Board Member of the Business Council of Alabama)
COUNT 17: [GUILTY ] Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from James Holbrook (Sterne Agee Group)
COUNT 18: [GUILTY ] Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from Jimmy Rane (President of Great Southern Wood)
COUNT 19: [GUILTY ] Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from Robert Burton (President of Hoar Construction)
COUNT 20: [NOT GUILTY] Solicited assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network from Bob Riley
COUNT 21: [ NOT GUILTY] Solicited consulting assistance and support for Auburn Network from Minda Riley Campbell
COUNT 22: [ NOT GUILTY] Solicited assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network from Billy Canary.
COUNT 23: [GUILTY] Solicited assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network and/or financial advice regarding Craftmaster Printers from Will Brooke.
Hubbard, 54, was indicted in October 2014. After a lengthy legal battle by the defense to have the case dismissed, the trial finally began with jury selection on May 16 and the first day of testimony on May 24.
Because Hubbard was convicted of a felony, state law requires he automatically be removed from office. Rep. Victor Gaston of Mobile County, the current house speaker pro tempore, will assume the responsibilities of house speaker, though his title will not change. Gaston will hold the speaker's duties until the start of the next legislative session (or special session) when an election will be held.
Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.