Congress must impeach Siegelman’s judge, Mark Fuller
By John Burt Caylor
onlinejournal.com | Feb 5, 2010
The Obama Justice Department lost any credibility in November by opposing Supreme Court review of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s 2006 conviction on the bogus corruption charges that authorities filed against him during the Bush era.
Under President Obama, Bush holdovers are still helping Siegelman’s corrupt trial judge, Mark Fuller, cover up a massive conspiracy by rogue federal prosecutors and Karl Rove, whose diabolical schemes to corrupt Alabama politics pre-dated his Bush White House jobs.
You’re about to read my eyewitness account of a real-life John Grisham novel about my hometown of Enterprise, Alabama. I share that hometown with Mark Fuller, whose father and mine comprised part of the notorious Dixie Mafia whose drug-running, arms-smuggling and gambling operations play a huge role in the state’s politics and economy.
Right now, a casino in nearby Dothan and its related scandals is the biggest issue in the state’s governor race.
Of even greater significance is that Mark Fuller presides as chief federal judge in the middle district of Alabama, continuing to abuse his vast powers. Most dramatically, he refuses to recuse himself from continuing to rule over Siegelman, whom he helped railroad into prison and solitary confinement — and whom Fuller hates with a passion over a longtime grudge.
This constitutes a challenge not just for those of us in Alabama living in this corrupt system, but for everyone in the United States who wonders why the Obama administration continues to resist this travesty of justice in the most infamous U.S. prosecution of the decade, which has escalated to the status of an international human rights disgrace.
For these reasons, the House Judiciary Committee must restore public confidence promptly by launching an impeachment investigation of this trial judge regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on Siegelman’s plea for justice.
* One focus should be on Judge Fuller’s long-running help for what Justice Department Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson described in 2005 to Rove’s office as the “loyal Bushies.” They included federal prosecutors nationwide who were framing Siegelman and other Democrats to remove them from office.
* Another focus must be on Fuller’s already documented fraud seeking $300,000 from Alabama’s taxpayers in a scheme involving Doss Aviation, Inc., the former drug-smuggling company that Fuller controls as its largest stockholder.
* I am among the many who will step forward to testify on these matters. But first, the Judiciary Committee must take the lead to holding public hearings calling these criminals to testify in public alongside whistleblowers. Do-nothings in the Justice Department will never start this on their own because too many secrets will come out.
An honest and competent Judiciary Committee probe of these matters would blow the lid off massive corruption in Alabama and Washington. That corruption is causing major abuses in defense contracting, election rigging, high-level bribery, and even worse crimes that are destroying our country’s basic freedoms.
As noted, one of these scandals currently dominating Alabama’s 2010 gubernatorial race involves the gambling casinos and dog track operators who have shaped our state’s politics for many years.
They are now in open warfare against each other to control the future of government policy in Alabama, most immediately in a huge bingo-related development project near Dothan.
The leading Republican candidate for governor, Bob Johnson, is raising hell about millions of dollars in Jack Abramoff-related Indian casino graft that had been channeled to the incumbent Republican Gov. Bob Riley. For years, Riley cited his abhorrence for gambling to oppose Siegelman’s lottery proposals to fund education and more currently the bingo development. So it’s remarkable to see so much new documentation of Riley’s hypocrisy, especially coming from a fellow Republican like Johnson.
Meanwhile, our presumed Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Artur Davis, a congressman and African-American pal of Obama dating from their Harvard days, is conniving with Rove’s business allies.
Davis hopes to use his connections with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) to slip into office amidst the Republican confusion, without taking principled stands on the mind-boggling scandals in Alabama that have caused so much harm locally and nationally. Under President Bill Canary, BCA is well-connected to his friend Rove and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, who share common roots in the American Trucking Association, Republican politics and Alabama skullduggery going back many years.
In my opinion, the worst scandal arising from Alabama — and certainly the most dramatic — is the 2008 murder of federal witness Mike Connell via sabotage on his airplane. I’ve been helping Ohio’s Common Cause investigate the crash as part of its probe of election software fraud in Ohio that helped provide the 2004 margin for George W. Bush’s victory.
As his family feared in early 2008 when he turned against his co-conspirators, someone not currently known damaged Connell’s plane and caused it to crash just before his scheduled testimony as a cooperating federal witness revealing his work assisting Rove’s election-rigging operation.
Years ago, Rove had set up election software study centers in Alabama and Tennessee to develop expertise in the kind of voting machine fraud that cost Siegelman his 2002 re-election.
As well known by now, Riley narrowly beat Siegelman after officials in rural Baldwin County announced on Election Night that they had reversed 3,000 votes for Siegelman and put them into the Riley column after polls closed with Siegelman initially declared the statewide victor.
Let me disclose that I’m currently in hiding from Florida’s state authorities in fear for my own life, especially after police fatally beat my mother outside her home in what I believe to have been retribution for my investigative work.
Later, a Florida county court sentenced me to six months in jail on a disturbing the peace charge for my 2006 attempt to obtain county courthouse records under Florida’s Sunshine law about my mother’s death and the unrelated death of a 14-year-old boy after he was severely beaten in a state juvenile home.
During my first night in jail on the disorderly conduct charge, Florida police withheld the life-saving heart medicines that I require, especially now that I’m trying to recover also from very serious cancers.
So just call me a “fugitive for justice” now that I’m free on bond and living in what we’ll call an undisclosed location. For those reasons, my appearance is now somewhat different from the attached photo taken I’ve used for years.
But I’m willing to risk everything to come to Washington to help an honest oversight inquiry of these scandals by the House Judiciary Committee if anyone there has the nerve to do what’s right.
That’s because corruption I’ve seen connected with Judge Fuller and his confederates is literally destroying our country.
For years, I’ve been writing a book about it called Inside the Dixie Mafia. But I cannot delay my findings any longer at this key juncture. Sadly, the Obama administration is showing that it wants to continue the Justice Department’s Siegelman cover-up for whatever devious purposes the Obama group itself might have.
Thus, the cover-up has by now morphed from a Bush scandal to one at Obama’s Justice Department (DOJ). Among recent developments have been the Justice Department’s:
- Firing Justice Department whistleblower Tamarah Grimes, a paralegal on the Siegelman case who objected to its paramilitary-style, win-at all-costs implementation wasting taxpayer dollars.
- Keeping the lid on the Siegelman case by seeking twenty additional years in prison for Siegelman during his resentencing by Fuller, who originally had the defendant put in solitary confinement and barred from contact with family and the news media.
- Retaining the corrupt U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, whose middle district office prosecuted Siegelman. Her husband, William Canary, is Rove’s close friend and head of the Business Council of Alabama and former Republican National Committee chief of staff.
- Advocating George Beck as Leura Canary’s successor as U.S. attorney. Beck disgracefully permitted Canary’s office to blackmail his client Nick Bailey via more than 70 paramilitary-style interrogations at an Alabama Air Force base. Fearful of government exposure of his sex life, pressure on his partners and a threatened 10-year prison sentence, Bailey gave misleading and, in essence, since recanted testimony that convicted Siegelman on corruption charges.
- As the final straw, Obama’s new Solicitor General Elena Kagan is arguing that the Supreme Court should not review the Siegelman prosecution, even though it’s by now an international human rights disgrace.
Some of Obama’s actions are doubtless to curry favor with Alabama’s powerful Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, who have no interest in seeing their friend Fuller and his secrets exposed.
It’s likely also that Obama’s own friend, Kagan, thinks her status as a hot-shot legal superstar will one day propel her to a U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Kagan, who formerly taught at the same tight-knit University of Chicago Law School faculty with Obama, went on to become dean at her alma mater Harvard Law School. Might Senate approval for a Supreme Court nomination be easier if she curries favor with Sessions, the Judiciary Committee’s Republican ranking member?
If she thinks so, she’s yet another Harvard-educated fool, at best. In the tradition of Bob Hope’s character in the movie Son of Paleface, she’s as clueless as the senators who approved Fuller’s nomination without a single question about the military contractor Doss Aviation that he’d been running for the previous thirteen years.
Sessions operates in a world of power politics and almost unimaginable hypocrisy. For him and his crowd, anyone who extends a cowardly gesture of friendship, such as Kagan’s stance on Siegelman, is regarded simply as weak.
More important, Kagan, Holder and Obama for all their fancy rhetoric and law degrees don’t seem to understand the passion for justice that some of us in Alabama feel about the Siegelman case — and how our numbers are now augmented nationwide by Internet communications.
The corporate-owned newspapers and broadcasters look for guidance from commentators like Rove on such complex topics. Rove is one of their own as a columnist for the Washington Post-owned Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal. Among his public opinion tools is broadcasting his opinions on Fox News TV, and a new book with mass media interviews this spring.
But the Internet’s capabilities are a game changer, as Obama’s campaign knew, but as his administration now seems to forget.
For these reasons, the public must pressure the House to ramp up an investigation of Fuller and his fellow criminals, such Rove, even though a number of the House’s own members have much to hide from transgressions that rogue authorities have captured via warrantless electronic surveillance, easily enabled by modern technology.
Fortunately, whistleblowers and investigative reporters have documented so much evidence against Fuller that it would take only one or two honest congressional members to solve the problem.
With the public desperate for a hero, here’s a summary of what any courageous congressional member would find if he or she were willing to buck the cover-up system in the way that Florida freshman Representative Alan Grayson recently did to decry the financial frauds afflicting our country:
Fuller’s formal title is Chief U.S. Judge for Alabama’s Middle District, which is based in the capital city of Montgomery. But as the record shows, his real title should be “kangaroo court judge” as only that Wild West term for justice conveys the Fuller style: Shoot-from-the-hip with his “I-am-the law” arrogance.
How do I know? I’m an Alabama-raised investigative reporter reared in Enterprise, which is located near the Gulf and became Alabama’s center for the Dixie Mafia of organized crime. Mobsters moved to my hometown after Phenix City to the east forced them out following a particularly notorious assassination in 1954.
My jobs have included work as an investigative reporter, private investigator and undercover federal drug investigator. In the course of such work or the social conversations growing out of it, I’ve met former CIA Director and future President George H.W. Bush, retired Cuban Mafia leader Santo Trafficante and Iran-Contra leader Oliver North.
One of my first jobs was as a photographer for Cliff Wentworth, an attorney and friend of my father’s who would go on to become a notorious cocaine smuggler working directly with Colombia’s most notorious kingpins, Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder, to distribute a billion dollars of cocaine throughout the Southeast.
Wentworth was later convicted and given a slap on the wrist: Six years, suspended after six months served in a country-club type minimum security facility. That illustrates the kind of federal judges we see in my neck of the woods who coddle their friends in such matters without any real scrutiny from Congress, the Justice Department or the media.
In March 2007, I met several of Siegelman’s prosecutors on their way to a victory party at my then-neighbor Rove’s home at Rosemary Beach, just south of Alabama in the Florida Panhandle. Curiously, Rove testified before House Judiciary Committee staff last summer that he had scant interest in the Siegelman case and no one had the gumption to challenge him with specifics on that or a hundred other points where an honest and reasonably competent first-year law student could have nailed Rove.
Enterprise is also the hometown of Fuller, who was born in 1958, a few years after me. My father was the Enterprise police chief who welcomed so many outlaw refugees from Phenix City to mingle with our leading citizens and gung-ho military men populating the fast-growing bases in our region. Mark’s father was a state district attorney for the Twelfth Circuit Court based in Enterprise.
Mark Fuller is dirty. I personally know he is dirty. Moreover, I know the whole damn bunch associated with him.
The gist is that both our fathers used their respectable fronts to hide involvement in massive drug smuggling from Columbia by working with outlaws from the Dixie Mafia who had direct ties to major city Mafiosi as well as to the very top smugglers in Colombia.
The racket, which was nicknamed The Enterprise, enjoyed semi-protected status, especially during the Iran-Contra era, which was when Lt. Col. Oliver North and his colleagues used to visit with my father, with me and with others in town.
Control of Doss Aviation, one of the early companies involved in the smuggling, was passed along from my father and his group to Mark’s father and his cronies, and then ultimately in 1989 to Mark, who that year became Doss Aviation chairman and chief executive officer.
The company won dozens of CIA and Air Force contracts with the help of the region’s longtime Republican representative, Terry Everett, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. I used to work for Everett on the local newspapers and broadcasting properties that he owned.
Fast forward: As a George W. Bush-nominated federal judge appointed in 2002, Fuller retains a controlling interest in Doss Aviation, ensuring that as a judge he will have a fabulous amount of non-judicial income.
The proceeds include some $300 million in Bush administration awards to Doss Aviation since 2006, the year the Siegelman trial began. All of this has been amply documented in on-the-record materials by courageous whistleblowing legal figures Paul Weeks, Jill Simpson and Tamarah Grimes, and several very thorough investigative reporters whose exposés have fallen on deaf ears, exposing the degree of corruption at the Justice Department and the indifference, if not complicity, of elected representatives to these big-dollar scandals.
Fuller is also part-owner of the CIA front company Oceaneering International, Inc. As the former Navy Intelligence analyst Wayne Madsen has reported, Oceaneering’s roots are in the Bush family business Zapata Offshore Oil Co. that George H.W. Bush led before he entered politics and became CIA director from 1976 to 1977.
The Justice Department likes to argue in court that Fuller’s massive income from his side businesses, such as Doss Aviation, doesn’t violate the law of judicial recusal because not a single reasonable American might think this kind of money from government contracting would affect his judgment in a political prosecution like Siegelman’s.
Count me as part of the chorus of helpless ordinary observers who say that Fuller should have recused himself, or been forced to recuse himself. The leading Supreme Court case demands he do so under his own motion, and the country’s citizens should be outraged that his fellow federal judges don’t understand that their own integrity is at risk if they tolerate this kind of corruption.
In this instance, Fuller has held a shareholder stake of up to 44 percent of the privately held Doss Aviation firm at the same time that he’s been railroading his longtime enemy Siegelman into prison, and indeed solitary confinement, on charges trumped up by the White House’s operatives in Alabama and Washington.
His stockholder share of Doss Aviation apparently has been reduced to 30 percent, according to Huffington Post articles here (“Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power“) and here (“Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge,’ Evidence Shows“).
But 30 percent still leaves Fuller as controlling shareholder of a company with just six other retainers, according to judicial reporting forms as of last year.
Specifics on how Siegelman was framed
As background, the main federal charges against Siegelman stem from his reappointment of businessman Richard Scrushy to a state board in 1999 after Scrushy contributed to a state non-profit advocating for more spending for education via creation of a state lottery. Ninety-one former state attorneys general have so far argued to the Supreme Court that Siegelman’s actions were not a crime.
But the Obama administration has not only urged the Supreme Court to reject a hearing, but asked Fuller to sentence Siegelman to an additional twenty years in prison. This continuing travesty of justice is fully documented by on-the-record investigative reporting that sadly is largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate-owned media.
I’ll describe in my next report reasons why the Justice Department wants to keep a lid on the case, and why the corporate-owned media is happy to comply.
First part in a series
Investigative reporter John Burt Caylor is editor and publisher of Insider Magazine. Previously, he worked as a television and newspaper reporter, a contract investigator for federal agencies, a licensed private investigator and a network communications consultant. He is a native of Enterprise, Alabama, where his father was police chief and a member of the Dixie Mafia.