We learned this morning that documents of evidence in the Balch Bribery Criminal Trial were sealed, according to Kyle Whitmire of AL.com.
This comes hours after our post about the possible missing billing records for the drafting of a letter of intimidation from indicted Balch partner Joel Gilbert who sent it to GASP, the health and environmental public charity.
Today, Oliver Robinson, the bought-and-paid-for politician who faces up to a 100 years in prison, is testifying and is singing like a sad canary.
Robinson testified that Joel Gilbert demanded 100 letters signed from the neighborhood, and Robinson was able to provide 93 boiler-plate letters.
In other words, about one letter for each year Robinson faces in prison.
As Pulitzer prize-winning journalist John Archibald tweeted:
You gotta love how Robinson got stock letters written by his boss at Balch, convinced 100 neighborhood people to sign them and send to to EPA to oppose cleanup of their own community. And by love I mean vomit.
AL.com lead paragraph from their midday story summarized the powerful and damaging testimony:
Oliver Robinson, the former state legislator at the heart of the federal bribery trial involving a coal company executive and two lawyers, testified Tuesday that he was asked to use his office to accomplish what Balch and Bingham and Drummond Company asked him to do.
Although defense lawyers will grill Robinson, the prosecution today demonstrated two important points: Robinson’s capacity as a public official was used for their alleged bribery scheme and that the terms of the alleged bribery contract (building websites, etc) were never fulfilled.
As we wrote about on Sunday, “Most white-collar crime works by manipulating institutional psychology.That means creating something that looks as much as possible like a normal set of transactions.”
The contract and payments to Robinson appear to have been abnormal.
[UPDATE: The defense attorney for Joel Gilbert began grilling Robinson this late afternooon and “is trying to argue that Robinson’s meeting was not an ‘official act’ because he didn’t pressure the EPA in the meeting, ” according to a tweet from Kyle Whitmire.
Robinson was there at the EPA as a State Legislator, not as a UAB basketball star or a contestant for The Price is Right.
And John Archibald tweets this on-point observation: “In reality, the [Balch] contract itself demands Robinson do illegal things, while demanding he do nothing illegal.“]
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