Sherry Lewis, Birmingham Water Works Board Chair, indicted for ethics violations

By Lauren Walsh

News elected chair Sherry Lewis at the first meeting of the new board. The Waterworks Board of the City of Birmingham called a Special Board of Directors’ Meeting Wednesday January 4, 2017 held in Birmingham, Alabama. (Frank Couch / The Birmingham Times)

Sherry Lewis, chairman of the Birmingham Water Works Board, was indicted Wednesday for violating Alabama’s ethics laws.

The Attorney General’s Public Corruption Unit issued the indictment. At the same time, it indicted Jerry Jones on three counts. Jones was the Vice President of engineering company Arcadis. He managed the company’s multimillion dollar business with Birmingham Water Works.

Lewis has been on the Birmingham Water Works Board since 2008. She was appointed by Mayor William Bell.

She was voted to be chair of the board in January 2017, right after a shift in power took place on the board, due to a state law adding four members.

Brett Bloomston, an attorney for Lewis said his client “is innocent of the charges returned against her, at the prosecution’s request, by a grand jury that heard only one side of the evidence.

“Sherry has lived her entire life in Birmingham, Alabama. She has earned an excellent reputation for her honesty, integrity, and hard work in her professional life, as well as within her community. Sherry has diligent served on the Birmingham Water Works Board, where she has been a voice of reason and a watchdog for the citizens that are served by that Board.

“Sherry looks forward to her day in court and expects to be acquitted of all charges by a jury of her peers in a trial where she will have the right to confront the prosecution’s evidence.”

Weeks after she became chair, ABC 33/40’s cameras captured Lewis entering the Jefferson County Courthouse, to spend time with the Attorney General’s Public Corruption Unit and its special grand jury.

During this time, the board continued work with its independent engineering firm, Arcadis.

Jones managed the company’s work with the Birmingham Water Works Board.

The company on Monday confirmed his termination, just two days before indictments became public.

In a statement, Arcadis said an internal investigation showed Jones violated company policies, and added that the company cooperated with state and federal investigations as well.

A review of the board’s minutes shows the board spent millions of dollars with Arcadis.

In 2016, the board approved $6.3 million dollars of invoices for Arcadis.

In 2017, minutes from January to May show the board approved invoices worth $1.2 million for Arcadis.

Updated at 4:03 p.m. on Dec.6, 2017 with comment from Lewis’s attorney.