A federal jury in the trial of a Rainbow City man continues to hear witnesses outline how he used his position connected to several Alabama universities to get millions of taxpayer dollars.
Maurice William Campbell Jr. faces a 96-count federal indictment including fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy charges. Campbell denies the charges.
Since Monday, the prosecutors have seated a variety of witnesses in a Birmingham federal courtroom, including Democratic state Representative Richard Lindsey of Centre, Jacksonville State Univerity President Bill Meehan, Jacksonville State’s Government Relations Director Don Killingsworth, and Campbell’s former bookeeper.
Lindsey testified he didn’t know the non-profit Alabama Small Business Institute of Commerce was not the Alabama Small Business Development Consortium. He says the name was changed on the legislatures line item budget from the consortium to the institute at Campbell’s request.
The institute received millions of dollars in state funds supposed to be earmarked for the consortium.
The Alabama Small Business Development Consortium has member institutions including: University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of North Alabama, Alabama A&M University, University of Alabama at Huntsville, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Auburn University, Jacksonville State University, Alabama State University, University of West Alabama, Troy University, and the University of South Alabama. The consortium is “a statewide, inter-institutional program to enhance economic growth in Alabama by providing management and technical assistance to small businesses. Certified business counselors are available in 12 Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) located at our member university partners across the state.”
Meehan told the court this week an estimated $10 million was redirected to the institute through Jacksonville state’s budget. Prosecutors contend about $7 million ended up as Campbell’s personal piggy bank.
Campbell was appointed director of the consortium by former Governor Bob Riley in 2003. The indictment accuses Campbell of using that position to channel funds intended for the consortium to himself for five years.
In 2005 he incorporated the Alabama Small Business Institute of Commerce as a non-profit organization he headed as president, director, and registered agent.
Prosecutors contend Campbell used that agency as a springboard to launch several shell organizations he used to funnel money to himself and others, including his female companions he called his “Little Sisters.”
Three of those young women have testified they were some of those Campbell hired to be his escorts to consortium or institute events. They say he bought them clothing, meals and jewelry. Prosecutors even presented bikinis to the court they contend were among Campbell’s purchases made with taxpayer money for his female companions who were told to refere to him as “Sir William”.
The institute’s former bookkeeper, Mickie Kelso Davis testified Thursday about the state funded purchases including travel and dinners. Davis has pleaded guilty to charges including wire and credit card fraud, conspiracy, and filing false tax returns. She admits she used the institute’s money to buy things like Iron Bowl tickets and a trip to the Bahamas.
Davis says Campbell created bank accounts, including Baptist Housing Services LLC, Johnson Marketing Group LLC, and S&D Supporting Services, where the institute’s money was deposited to pay for personal expenses.
She testified $5,000 and $6,000 payments were made from the institute through the Baptist Housing Services account to the Rainbow City retirement community called Regency Pointe. Campbell had served as an official and Davis had been a bookkeeper for the retirement community. She says she was getting paychecks from both Regency Pointe and the institute.
Davis said Campbell called the Baptist Housing Services account his “play money.” She testified when she once voiced concern about expenses from the account he told her “no one tells Sir William how to spend his money.”
If convicted, Campbell faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count, up to 20 years on the mail and wire fraud counts, and possibly 20 years on the money laundering counts.