Federal Grand Jury Indicts Huntsville Police Officer on Bribery Charges
BIRMINGHAM—A federal grand jury today indicted a Huntsville police officer in connection with a conspiracy to fix cocaine trafficking charges against an individual arrested by another Huntsville officer, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. and Huntsville Police Chief Lewis Morris.
A four-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges LEWIS BERNARD HALL, 45, of Meridianville, Ala., with conspiracy, bribery, obstruction of justice and making a false statement to investigators. According to the charges, Hall conspired with someone identified in the indictment as “Individual B” to pay a fellow police officer $5,000 if that officer would claim his July 29 vehicle search that resulted in drug-trafficking charges against “Individual A” was unlawful, thereby making the criminal case against Individual A go away. The Huntsville officer who conducted the vehicle search and, subsequently, assisted in the investigation of Hall is identified in the indictment as “Cooperating Officer.”
“Our community expects and deserves police officers who will protect citizens and uphold the law, not tarnish their badge and work to protect criminals,” Vance said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes public corruption cases to punish those who violate the law and the public trust and to reinforce the need and expectation of integrity in government and police service.”
“Public corruption is the FBI’s number one criminal priority for a reason,” Schwein said. “It tears at the fabric of our democracy and works to undermine the public’s trust and confidence in the government. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate violations of that trust committed by any public official, regardless of position.”
“The Huntsville Police Department contacted the FBI as soon as we learned of possible corruption and we assisted the FBI in its investigation,” Morris said. “I want to assure the public that this indictment addresses the actions of one police officer, and the Huntsville department will diligently address any other issues that might come to our attention. We value the working relationship we enjoy with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and appreciate their attention to this case.”
According to the indictment’s conspiracy count, on July 31, Hall and Individual B discussed offering the Cooperating Officer a bribe to tell other law enforcement officers that his search of Individual A’s vehicle, which uncovered about three ounces of cocaine, was unlawful. Hall offered the bribe to the Cooperating Officer on July 31, paid him $1,000 on Aug. 12, and had two follow-up conversations in November about what the officer was supposed to say when asked about the search of Individual A’s vehicle, the indictment says.
The bribery count charges Hall with corruptly offering the bribe to an agent of the City of Huntsville and its police department, which received more than $10,000 in federal benefits within one year, to influence the Cooperating Officer in how he reported the July 29 vehicle search.
The obstruction of justice count charges Hall with offering the bribe with the intent to delay or prevent the reporting of a felony or possible felony offense and the violation of conditions of supervised release by Individual A.
The false statement count charges Hall with knowingly making a false statement to an FBI agent on Dec. 8, saying he did not give money to the Cooperating Officer in connection with that officer’s reporting of his search of Individual A’s vehicle.
The maximum penalty for both the conspiracy and the false statement charges is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the bribery count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum for the obstruction count is 20 years in prison and a $250,000.
The FBI investigated the case in conjunction with the Huntsville Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney George A. Martin Jr. is prosecuting the case.