Corruption case: Alabama lawmaker, 2 others plead not guilty
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama lawmaker, a lobbyist and a medical company executive on Wednesday pleaded not guilty in federal court to conspiracy and other charges related to 2016 health care legislation.
State Rep. Randy Davis of Daphne, former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors and G. Ford Gilbert of California entered not guilty pleas Wednesday morning in federal court in Montgomery.
Federal prosecutors have charged the trio in what they described as a Statehouse scheme to pressure the state’s largest insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, to cover diabetes treatments at Gilbert’s Trina Health clinics.
Prosecutors said that Gilbert paid former Majority Leader Micky Hammon to work behind the scenes to push legislation that would mandate coverage of the treatments. Prosecutors said Davis lobbied the insurance company to cover the treatments, and spoke in favor of a bill to mandate the coverage, even though he had received finder’s fees for recruiting investors to Trina.
Gilbert, Davis and Connors, who worked as a lobbyist on the bill, are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. Gilbert also faces bribery and fraud charges.
The defendants have denied wrongdoing.
Gilbert’s attorney Richard Jaffe said after the court appearance that Ford was “never about the money” but wanted to help people in a state with a high rate of diabetes.
Connors and Gilbert previously pleaded not guilty. They had to return for a new arraignment after new charges were announced related to Davis.
A fourth defendant in the case, state Rep. Jack Williams of Vestavia Hills, is applying for pretrial diversion, his attorney told U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer on Wednesday. Williams could avoid trial if accepted into the program.
In a separate case, another lawmaker also pleaded not guilty to charges that he paid kickbacks to a doctor’s office that that referred patients to his company for chronic care management.
State Rep. Ed Henry entered the not guilty plea Wednesday in Montgomery federal court.
Henry’s attorney, Max Pulliam has said that that Henry’s company provided legitimate services that improved patients’ health “and he actually saved the taxpayers money.”