Chase T. Espy, the ex-Balch & Bingham attorney who attempted to solicit a child online for sex in 2021 and pled guilty to possession of child pornography last year, was sentenced yesterday morning to 97 months in federal prison and was taken into federal custody immediately afterwards.
Espy, who at one time represented client Southern Company, joins ex-Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert in the federal prison system. Gilbert is serving a five-year sentence for money laundering and bribery in the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, born at the offices of Balch & Bingham.
Federal Judge Annemarie Carney Axon threw the book at Espy. After Espy serves his eight-year prison sentence, Judge Axon doubled his supervised release term from the recommended 10 years to 20 years.
Espy’s sentencing is undoubtedly causing fallout for Southern Company which is embroiled in numerous regulatory controversies and litigation.
Southern Company unbelievably utilizes Balch to represent them and their subsidiaries before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). With the enormous cost overruns and constant delays of Vogtle Reactors 3 and 4, the relationship between Southern Company and the three other co-owners has soured tremendously.
All three have sued Southern Company. They have had enough of the bull.
We are sure Ogelthorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities won’t like the fact that Southern Company is using a tarnished and embattled law firm and an alleged participant in a criminal RICO enterprise to represent Vogtle’s interests before the NRC.
Michael L. Smith, the CEO of Ogelthorpe Power, will surely not want to be associated with a law firm tied to bribery, money laundering, and sex crimes against children.
And we are sure the commissioners and staff at the NRC are stunned that Southern Company has allowed an alleged unscrupulous law firm with two convicted felons in prison to make presentations and appear before the NRC on behalf of Southern Company.
The NRC should immediately revoke any and all nuclear licenses held by Southern Company since the criminal RICO enterprise is a threat to national security.
And former NRC Chair Kristine L. Svinicki should resign immediately from the Southern Company Board of Directors and quickly distance herself from Espy and the child pornography scandal.
Svinicki is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan which settled a massive sexual abuse case last year for $490 million. Over 1,000 former students, mostly men, claimed they were sexually abused by a former sports doctor.
Does Svinicki really want to be associated with this racket of pedophiles and money launderers?
Espy, who is now a registered sex offender, was arrested by local authorities in August of 2021 for soliciting a child. The online “child” actually was an undercover local law enforcement officer.
According to authorities, there were approximately 69 videos and four images of child sexual abuse material located on Espy’s cellphone including two involving toddlers, 20 depicting penetration, three depicting humiliation, and 29 involving masturbation.
The total number of child sexual abuse material images for sentencing purposes was 5,178.
Espy’s plea deal described the repulsive, graphic, and disgusting images and videos. (We wanted to literally throw up when we read the document last fall.)
In August of 2021, when Espy was arrested, we, the CDLU, reached out to the U.S Department of Homeland Security which investigates child trafficking and exploitation.
We debriefed them on how Balch & Bingham had changed their WiFi IP address just weeks before Espy was terminated in September of 2020.
Balch foolishly announced that they had terminated Espy almost a year before he was arrested. Espy had worked at Balch & Bingham for eight years.
Did Balch know about Espy’s sick perversion? Was there a possible cover-up? During his eight-year tenure, were any children exploited by Espy while he was working at Balch? Did Espy solicit children or download kiddie porn using Balch’s Wi-Fi, or Balch servers or computers at any time during those eight years?
We believe, after reading the plea deal, that this was not Espy’s first time at the rodeo. We hope and pray there were no young victims.
Now the NRC, Vogtle co-owners, and Professor Svinicki need to rise to the occasion and shut down the appalling behavior and alleged criminal misconduct tied to Southern Company’s criminal RICO enterprise and their paid stooges and goons, which at one point included a sexual predator of children. Good Lord!