The $50 million civil lawsuit against Balch & Bingham and Drummond Company by Dave Roberson may open Balch’s internal behavior to new scrutiny.
The Balch billing department balked at instructions from [convicted felon and now ex-Balch partner Joel I.] Gilbert to scrub the Oliver Robinson Foundation’s name from certain invoices and list work as “community outreach” instead of consulting.
“I’m not sure why we cloak the reference in our invoice,” chief operating officer David Miceli wrote in a Sept. 22, 2015, email.
“You ever hear anything from Joel on this?” he asked in a later email flagging a $25,500 payment.
The internal back and forth, documented later in the criminal case, dragged on for months.
Balch & Bingham, which would not make anyone available for an interview for this article, has insisted that Gilbert, as a partner, acted alone and would not have raised any flags as he deposited $360,000 into the Robinson foundation account because the money went out at a moderate pace over many months.
Roberson later said that 21 Balch & Bingham attorneys “played at least some part” in the anti-EPA campaign built on Robinson’s efforts.
In October of 2017, we took Balch to task, asking, “Who on Balch’s Executive Committee knew about the bribery scheme?”
For $360,000 to funnel through Balch and the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy, (usually in lumps of $14,000) someone must had approved those payments and reviewed the outgoing expenditures on a regular basis.
Who on Balch’s Executive Committee knew? How often did management review outgoing expenditures? Was it not their fiduciary responsibility to make sure partners were getting value for every contract, every expenditure made? Did they raise a red flag or turn a blind eye on this scheme?
The civil lawsuit by Roberson can now dive back into those matters and also take a tedious look at what happened in December of 2014.
On December 1, 2014, indicted Balch & Bingham partner Joel Gilbert dispatched a letter of intimidation to GASP, the health and environmental public charity that they tried to undercut by allegedly buying a politician for $360,000.
It appears that Gilbert may have been on vacation the week of Thanksgiving, because his last billing is for Friday, November 21, 2014. The letter is dated December 1, 2014, a Monday, but nothing shows up in the December billings.
Evidence tampering or we just can’t find it?
Like the O.J. Simpson trial, a civil lawsuit may let justice prevail for victims of Balch & Bingham’s alleged misconduct and bring the matters out to the open.
And that includes deposing all 21 attorneys allegedly involved or connected to the North Birmingham Bribery Case.