Appeals court upholds conviction in scheme to bribe Alabama former legislator

Published 7:11 am Saturday, May 29, 2021

A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a coal executive and an attorney who were accused of bribing a former Alabama legislator to sidetrack an environmental cleanup in Birmingham, a prosecutor said Friday.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned away the challenges of one-time Drummond Co. vice president David Lynn Roberson and Joel Iverson Gilbert, a former partner at Balch & Bingham law firm, U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona said in a statement.

Roberson and Gilbert were accused of bribing former state Rep. Oliver Robinson to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to expand a Superfund cleanup site in north Birmingham. Drummond would have had to pay for the work had it been found responsible for pollution.

Robinson, who was paid $360,000 through a private foundation in 2015 and 2016 to oppose the project, pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors.

The appeals court rejected claims by Roberson and Gilbert their actions didn’t constitute bribery under the law, according to a statement from Escalona’s office.