During the height of the pandemic, as many of us were locked inside our homes, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin spent $1.14 million on August 20, 2020, to pay a batch of invoices supposedly due to the Birmingham Times Media Group for “legal advertising.”
As we wrote last month, a search of the Birmingham Times website (as of December 28, 2022) reveals that no classified legal advertisements have appeared on the newspaper’s website since January 12, 2017.
Although we could not confirm if the money ever arrived to the Birmingham Times, we have learned from independent sources that the money never, ever went to the news media group and was deposited instead into the coffers of JJ Lewis Investments, LLC.
We called JJ Lewis Investments directly and they could not “confirm or deny” if the money was received on August 20, 2020.
Apparently, there was a recent shake-up at the firm.
With the sound of disarray in her voice, Amanda Cantrell told us she is reviewing everything and that she would be in touch with us, the CDLU, in the near future.
The disarray and disorder are grave that even the website forJJ Lewis Investments is “expired.”
The total spent by Woodfin on legal advertising totals $1.8 million.
But the initial payment of $1.14 million is raising deep questions.
Who cut the check or was it wired? Who was it made payable to? Who authorized the voucher and payment? Who deposited the check? What bank signed off on such a large deposit?
Both the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and the FBI have been briefed on the blatant embezzlement and corruption.
We’ve also been in touch with officials on the Birmingham City Council.
The Birmingham Times was acquired from the original owners by a not-for-profit with funds from Alabama Power, the embattled utility.