Alabama Legislature

Prosecutors Recommend Home Detention, Fine for Rogers on Fraud and Obstruction Plea

State Rep. John Rogers (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

State Rep. John Rogers, the longest-serving member of the Alabama House of Representatives, agreed Monday to resign his office and plead guilty to fraud and obstruction charges.

Rogers, an 83-year-old Birmingham Democrat, is accused in a kickback scheme that involved giving $400,000 from the taxpayer-funded Jefferson County Community Service Fund to the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League and then, along with his assistant, receiving $200,00 of that money back.

Two others already have pleaded guilty in connection with the case. Rep. Fred Plump, a Democrat from Fairfield who was executive director of the league, resigned from the Legislature and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in June 2023. Varrie Johnson Kindall, Rogers’ assistant and companion, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with Rogers and Plump to defraud the fund.

Rogers agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice in the scheme conducted between March 2019 and April 2023, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In return for his guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to seek 14 months of home confinement and an undefined length of time on supervised release, and Rogers agreed to pay $197,950.45 in restitution along with his two alleged conspirators, according to his plea agreement.

Under federal law, Rogers could have received a maximum penalty of 20 years on the fraud charges and five years for obstruction of justice. In asking for a lighter sentence, the U.S. Attorneys Office in the plea agreement cited Rogers’ age, which is 83, and physical condition.

Filling Rogers’ Seat

Rogers’ resignation leaves his House District 52 seat open in the middle of the legislative session.

Vacancies in the Legislature are filled through special elections called by the governor. Gov. Kay Ivey’s office could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Plump’s seat was filled by Travis Hendrix after a special election in October 2023.

Rogers first joined the Legislature representing parts of Birmingham in 1982. He was last elected in 2022.

The Accusations

The scheme that that led to the charges began after the Legislature in 2015 passed a law allowing the Jefferson County Commission to levy a 1% percent sales tax and a 1% use tax to “benefit the public welfare and enhance the education of the in Jefferson County,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s statement. Among the purposes of the fund were paying debt incurred during school construction, increasing the county’s general fund and giving funds to each board of education in the county, along with providing for other public purposes.

Jefferson County began levying the taxes in August 2017, and the approximately $3.6 million raised annually from the taxes was placed into the Jefferson County Community Service Fund.

Under the law, the Jefferson County Community Service Committee was established to manage the fund. It has four members elected by the Jefferson County House and Senate delegations, of which Rogers has been one.

Each representative and senator representing the county could make recommendations for spending the money. Each year from fiscal 2018 to 2022, each representative was allocated about $100,000 to be distributed from the fund and each senator was allocated approximately $240,000.

During that period, Rogers was allocated about $500,000 from the fund, according to the plea agreement. It alleges that in March 2019, Rogers called Plump and offered to arrange funding for the youth baseball league. In a later meeting in his office, Rogers told Plump he’d have to kick back half of the allotment to Rogers and Kindall. Plump said he agreed because he knew that was the only way he would get the money, the plea agreement states. All totaled, Rogers is accused of funneling $400,000 from the fund to the league and, with Kindall, receiving $200,000.

Rogers and Kindall are accused of bribing a potential witness, falsifying invoices and taking other steps to hide the activities. At one time, the plea agreement states, Rogers and Kindall agreed that she would tell investigators she was responsible for the scheme and Rogers was uninvolved. In exchange, Rogers would take care of personal issues for Kindall if she went to prison.

Read the Full Plea Agreement

Rogers’ Plea Agreement by Virginia Martin on Scribd