Alabama Legislator, Alabama Lobbyist, and Owner of California Company Charged with Public Corruption
On Monday, April 2, 2018, three individuals—two of whom reside in Alabama and one who resides in California—were arrested on charges stemming from their involvement in a public corruption scheme, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. The Alabama defendants are State Representative Jack D. Williams, 60, of Vestavia Hills, Alabama and lobbyist Martin J. “Marty” Connors, 61, of Alabaster, Alabama. The California defendant is G. Ford Gilbert, 70, of Carmichael, California.
According to the indictment, Defendant Gilbert is the owner of a California company that operates diabetes treatment centers throughout the world—Trina Health, LLC (Trina Health). In 2014 and 2015, Trina Health opened three clinics in Alabama. Soon thereafter, the state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (a.k.a. Blue Cross), informed Trina Health that it would not cover the treatments provided by them. Gilbert then schemed to force Blue Cross to change its position.
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.
Based on these events, the indictment charges all three defendants with conspiracy to commit bribery related to federal programs, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, and honest services wire fraud. Additionally, the indictment alleges that Gilbert and Connors committed the substantive offense of bribery related to federal programs. Gilbert alone is charged with wire fraud, health care fraud, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. The indictment does not include charges against Hammon because Hammon has already been convicted in federal court of other offenses.
If convicted of the most serious offenses, each defendant in this case faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, significant monetary penalties, asset forfeiture, and restitution.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.