Why Federal Prosecutors Are Taking Down Bentley
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on June 25, 2016
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on June 25, 2016
Alabama is home to three major automobile producers: Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. The state is also home to two major engine producers, International Diesel of Alabama and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc.
Last year, Google, Inc., the world's second most valuable company, announced that it would invest $600 million to locate a massive data processing center in north Alabama, one of only fourteen in the world. Google's financial investment in Jackson County matches Airbus's $600 million investment in Mobile, Alabama, where the aerospace giant began building its first U.S.-based production facility in 2013.
These companies are global conglomerates. They could have easily located their manufacturing facilities in other countries. For a variety of reasons, they chose to locate their facilities in the United States and to site them in Alabama.
None of these companies can afford to be associated, directly or indirectly, with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's "sex for power" and public corruption scandal. All of them have stellar international reputations that must be safeguard from embarrassing scandals at all times. Under no circumstances can they bring world leaders and industry giants to a meeting with a sitting governor who is the "target" of an ongoing federal criminal investigation for racketeering and public corruption.
Furthermore, Alabama's governor has become the laughingstock of the nation. Bentley's salacious scandal has dragged Alabama back into the negative spotlight of every major newspaper and electronic media organization in the world. Yet, Bentley, whose situation is analogous to a "dead man walking", refuses to resign.
The United States government is keenly aware of its affirmative obligation to project America in a strong and positive light to its trade partners around the world. Once the Justice Department in Washington learned that Bentley was operating a full-scale racketeering enterprise directly out of the governor's office in a state that is home to five of the world's largest international corporations, the Department realized the huge negative impact that Bentley's criminal conduct could have on America's mostly positive image in the international business world.
While major in-state corporations could choose to stick their heads in the sand and tolerate the governor's buffoonery, the international conglomerates in Alabama could not afford to do so. Some of these conglomerates made it known to the Justice Department, via private channels, that Bentley's sexcapades with Rebekah Mason and his publicly reported public corruption were bad for America's international business image and growth. What is more, the sex tapes of Bentley reminiscing about putting his hands on Rebekah's breasts and parading in front of her in his boxer shorts were too much of an embarrassment for the home office executives of these companies to stomach. Alabama's public officials may not have minimum standards of decency and ethics in office, but the heads of these international conglomerates certainly do.
Something had to be done about Bentley's out-of-the-closet and out-of-control criminal conduct. As 2015 was nearing an end, the timing was right for responsible corporate action to address Bentley's growing scandal.
On December 3, 2015, the Justice Department announced a 92-count indictment of sixteen high-profile FIFA soccer officials. The indictment alleged that these officials were part of a long-running criminal scheme to enrich themselves while overseeing the world governing body of soccer. The indictment charged the defendants, along with those who had been previously convicted, with racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice charges that were based upon criminal activities that were committed, for the most part, in foreign countries.
When Bentley's racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice case was brought to the attention of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in late December, the Justice Department could not look the other way. The Department had to be as aggressive in the investigation and prosecution of a domestic racketeer criminal like Bentley as the law enforcement agency had been in the case of the corrupt FIFA officials.
Recognizing the serious international implications of Robert Bentley's racketeering case from an equal justice and international business development standpoint, the Justice Department launched a criminal investigation of the governor. The Department's first assessment centered on Montgomery U.S. Attorney George Beck, Jr., and his fitness to serve as a member of the prosecution team. The Department quickly concluded that Beck was nothing more than a "bootlicking flunky" for Bentley and his chief legal adviser, David Byrne. Additionally, Beck did not have adequate legal skills for this prosecutorial job. The Department thereafter removed Beck and his entire office from any involvement in Bentley's criminal case.
Next, the Department assigned Atlanta U.S. Attorney John A. Horn to handle Bentley's case. Horn has been a federal prosecutor since 2002. His focus was mainly on prosecuting cases involving dangerous international drug cartels, including the takedown of a significant component of Mexico's Beltran-Leyva cartel including kingpin Edgar Valdez-Villarreal, a/k/a "La Barbie". Unlike Beck, Horn is a tough federal prosecutor with litigation skills that match the job. Horn has also amassed an impressive record in prosecuting hardcore criminal fraud and public corruption cases.
Since taking over the case, Horn's team of prosecutors and FBI agents has aggressively investigated Bentley's racketeering conduct. They have interviewed scores of key witnesses in the case, and some of them have been interviewed on multiple occasions. They have seized bank records, donor records from non-profit corporations, financial records from Bentley's campaign, records of electronic transmissions between Bentley, Mason, Byrne and other culprits, records from businesses associated with Mason and Bentley, and state government computers. They are well aware of attempts by Bentley and some of his loyalists within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to obstruct their investigation.
Federal investigators are shocked at the scope and scale of Bentley's racketeering enterprise. The indictment against Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason is expected to exceed the 92 criminal counts lodged against the corrupt FIFA officials. The Department is determined to show the international business community that federal prosecutors will be as tough on Bentley and his accomplices as they were on the FIFA officials.
Like the FIFA officials, Bentley will be arrested in a high-profile manner. Federal prosecutors will also seek sky-high bail bond amounts for each defendant. Like the FIFA officials, Bentley will be portrayed as a flight risk. He enjoys commandeering private planes and helicopters for his personal benefit. Like the FIFA officials, Bentley will likely languish in jail while trying to make his bail bond. Like the FIFA officials, all of those accomplices who knowingly aided and abetted Bentley and Rebekah Mason in the commission of their racketeering crimes and obstruction of justice will be charged along with them.
In the end, Robert Bentley's arrogant and small-minded thinking was no match for the private back-channel calls for criminal justice by the powerful international conglomerates that invested billions of dollars in manufacturing facilities in Alabama. Their voices, along with others, were heard within the Justice Department. The Department readily understood that America could not be seen on the international stage as cuddling a domestic racketeer like Robert Bentley while aggressively prosecuting foreign racketeers like the FIFA officials for the same kind of criminal conduct. Finally, the Department knew that America could never have a racketeering kingpin serving as the poster boy for any state's international business community.
This is why federal prosecutors are taking down Robert Bentley, and there is absolutely nothing he can do to stop it.
Donald V. Watkins