BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Representative Fred Plump Jr., was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice and has agreed to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives, US Attorney Prim F. Escalona announced Tuesday.
Plump, 76, of Fairfield was elected in November of 2022 and represented District 55 which includes parts of Adamsville, Birmingham, Fairfield and Graysville.
According to Escalona, Plump was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He agreed to plead guilty to the charges, pay restitution of at least $200,000, and resign from office immediately. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges came from an investigation of wrongdoing in connection with the Jefferson County Community Service Fund.
According to the charging document, a long-serving member of the Alabama House of Representatives was allocated approximately $500,000 by the fund between 2018 through 2022. The unnamed legislator directed around $400,000 of those funds to Piper Davis Youth Baseball League, where Fred Plump served as executive director. Plump then allegedly gave the unnamed legislator’s assistant around $200,000 of those funds in return.
The Piper Davis Youth Baseball League is a nonprofit organization that claims to provide a positive sporting experience for the youth in Jefferson County.
Allegedly, around March 2019 and continuing through April 2023, Plump conspired with others to defraud and obtain money from the fund. It’s alleged that it was part of the conspiracy that the member of the House recommended during each fiscal year that most of his allotment of fund money be paid to Piper Davis. Plump then allegedly agreed to pay kickbacks to the member’s assistant. Plump submitted false and fraudulent information to the Committee about Piper Davis’ intended use of Fund money. Plump then reportedly gave the member’s assistant checks for approximately half of the amount of fund money received by Piper Davis.
The obstruction of justice charge stems after Plump was served with a grand jury subpoena and was interviewed by agents. Plump allegedly texted the member’s assistant “Red Alert,” to warn them about the investigation.
The Alabama Legislature passed the “Act ” in 2015 and authorized the Jefferson County Commission to levy and distribute a one percent sales tax and one percent use tax to benefit public welfare and education of Jefferson County children. The Act required the County to distribute the tax money according to 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 other purposes in the Act.
The Act created the Jefferson County Community Service Fund, also know as the “Fund,” which was subsidized around $3.6 million annually from the new taxes. The Act also created the “Committee,” which is four members of which were elected by members of the Jefferson County House and Senate delegations. The Committee was responsible for ensuring that the Fund was used only for the purposes set forth in the Act, which included to support public entities and projects such as school, 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. During each fiscal year from 2018 to 2022, each representative was given approximately $100,000 and each senator was given approximately $240,000 from the fund.
Representative John Rogers says he is the unnamed legislator in the charging document.
Following the announcement of charges against Plump, Representative John Rogers said allocation of funds from the Jefferson County Community Service Fund are approved or disapproved by an outside agency.
Rogers said he did request funds for the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League. However, Rogers stated the recipient of the funding is responsible for using it appropriately and as agreed upon by the Jefferson County Community Service Fund.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.