MONTGOMERY, Ala. – “I can tell you that we’re still working,” says the Special Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Bentley corruption investigation.
The Attorney General’s Office took on a criminal investigation of Governor Robert Bentley’s administration. AG Steve Marshall put the investigation under the guidance of Ellen Brooks, the former Montgomery County District Attorney. Brooks confirms that Bentley’s departure from office did not stop that effort.
She tells WHNT News 19, “The state, the people deserve that. This needs to be resolved one way or the other.”
Now, part of the Bentley plea deal that resulted in his resignation includes immunity for himself, so who else are they targeting?
Brooks explains, “I can only say that other people, other facts are being examined and have been. It’s just not concluded as to them.”
She even offers an olive branch to former Bentley administration members, though perhaps one with thorns, “Certainly if any of them want to step forward and offer to plead guilty, I’m here and willing to listen. But we are continuing, and it’s an active investigation.”
Before you take someone to trial, you need a grand jury to give you an indictment. In a long corruption scandal like this one, the grand jury is on the job for months, and you’re updating them on new evidence as you collect it. The grand jury decides on criminal charges.
Ms. Brooks says outright the special grand jury hearing the Bentley investigation has not been dismissed.
The investigation falls under grand jury secrecy rules, so Brooks takes care with what she discusses. But she does note, “When you subpoena bank records on a certain account, it will lead you to other people and other accounts. In other words, who made a deposit? Who got paid out of that account? And so you have to begin to subpoena those records and that leads you down the road.”
It makes it difficult to set a timeline for any prosecutions to come. Brooks says, “I have told the Attorney General that I will stay on as long as I am needed to do this.”
She adds, with no further specificity, “At some point, I certainly hope to return to my life as a retired prosecutor.”