2 Lawyers, Drummond Exec Plead Not Guilty in Corruption Probe

Two partners in a Birmingham law firm and a vice president of one of the world’s largest coal companies have pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering, the Associated Press reported.

Joel Iverson Gilbert and Steven McKinney, both partners in the Birmingham law firm of Balch and Bingham, and David Roberson, vice president of government and regulatory affairs of Birmingham-based Drummond Company, entered their not guilty pleas Monday, AP reported.

The men are out on bond, and no trial date has yet been set.

Investigators allege the men bribed a state legislator from Birmingham in a scheme to thwart EPA action on a toxic waste cleanup in the city of Tarrant and the adjacent Inglenook neighborhood of Birmingham. They are accused of paying bribes through a non-profit foundation to former Rep. Oliver Robinson Jr., who later resigned his seat.

Robinson was indicted last month, accused of taking bribes from the two attorneys in exchange for his help to keep the federal Environmental Protection Agency from putting the 35th Avenue Superfund site on a national priority list. The idea was to have the matter handled by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, instead, which could have saved Drummond tens of millions of dollars.