Rep. Jack Williams, lobbyist Marty Connors and California healthcare CEO arrested on federal corruption charges
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Federal authorities arrested State Representative Jack D. Williams (R-Vestavia Hills), lobbyist Marty Connors, former chairman of the state Republican Party and Ford Gilbert, CEO of Trina Health, LLC on Monday on charges stemming from involvement with a public corruption scheme.
Each is charged with conspiracy to commit bribery related to federal programs, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and honest services wire fraud. This is according to US Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr.
The indictment reports Gilbert is the owner of a company that operates diabetes treatment centers around the world. Between 2014 and 2015, the company opened three clinics in Alabama. Not long after those opened, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama informed Trina Health it would not cover treatments provided by Trina Health. The indictment says Gilbert then plotted to force Blue Cross to change its stance.
According to the US Attorneys office, Gilbert came up with a plan to push a bill through the 2016 Alabama Legislature session. The bill would require Blue Cross to cover the treatments.
Then, Gilbert made payments to Micky Hammon, the State of Alabama House Majority Leader. This money was in exchange for his efforts to push the bill forward. The report says Gilbert hired Connors to act as a lobbyist on behalf of the bill.
Authorities say Connors knew of Gilbert’s payments to Hammon. Hammon and Connors then enlisted Williams to hold a public hearing on the bill. Rep. Williams was the chairman of the Commerce and Small Business Committee of the Alabama House of Representatives. The report says Williams knew of the payments to Hammon and acted in a way that helped Hammon who was facing serious financial problems.
He came up with a plan to push a bill through the Alabama Legislature’s 2016 session that would require Blue Cross to cover the treatments. Gilbert then made payments to State of Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon in exchange for his efforts on behalf of the bill. Gilbert also hired Defendant Connors to act as a lobbyist on behalf of the bill. Connors knew of Gilbert’s payments to Majority Leader Hammon. Hammon and Connors then recruited Defendant Williams, the chairman of the Commerce and Small Business Committee of the Alabama House of Representatives, to hold a public hearing on the bill. Williams also knew of the payments to Hammon and acted in part to help Hammon, who, as everyone in the scheme knew, was experiencing grave financial problems.
In addition to the charges all three are facing, the indictment claims Gilbert and Connors committed bribery related to federal programs. Gilbert is charged with wire fraud, health care fraud and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
The indictment does not include charges against Hammon. That’s because Hammon has already been convicted in federal court of other offenses.
If convicted, the men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, large fines, restitution and may be forced to give up some of their assets.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
An attorney for Representative Williams, Jake Watson, issued the following response:
“Mr. Williams absolutely denies any wrong doing of any sort and has full faith in the judicial process and looks forward to presenting his side of the story in the courtroom, rather than the media. The courtroom is the proper place to present evidence and testimony supporting his innocence. Mr. Williams will continue to represent his district in the State House and will continue to campaign for Jefferson County Commission, District 5.”
The United States Postal Inspection Service investigated the case with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross and Joshua Wendell are prosecuting the case.