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Former lawyer, coal company exec sentenced to prison for bribing Oliver Robinson

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David Roberson (left) and Joel Gibson (abc3340.com)
Usdoj.gov

A Birmingham lawyer who was in a scheme to bribe a state legislator to use his office to oppose Environmental Protection Agency Actions in north Birmingham, received a federal prison sentence on Tuesday of five years.

District Judge Abdul Kallon sentenced Joel Iverson Gilbert, 46, to five years in prison, $25,000 fine, and two years supervised release with 100 hours of community service each year, for bribing former Alabama Rep. Oliver Robinson.

Also sentenced was coal company executive David Lynn Roberson, 67, to two and a half years in prison, $25,000 fine, and one year supervised release. Both were sentenced for bribing Robinson with a $375,000 contract paid to him through his non-profit Oliver Robinson Foundation over the past two years.

Gilbert, former Balch & Bingham lawyer, was convicted on July 23, 2018 of bribery, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

Robinson pleaded guilty in September 2017 to the conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and tax evasion.

“Gilbert was too clever by half and his concoction and execution of this illegal scheme was met today with just punishment,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said on Tuesday.  “This case represents all manner of poisons in corrupt politics.  It is my hope that these convictions and sentences will dissuade those who seek to gain unlawful advantages in the political process for their personal gain…and at the expense of too many. The victims in this case have gotten a voice through this process and that voice will ring in the ears of Mr. Gilbert for years to come.”

Roberson, former Drummond Company vice president, was convicted on July 23, 2018 of bribery, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

“The investigation and prosecution into Roberson not only lead to his conviction, but a just and stiff sentence,” Town said.  “I am extremely proud of our agents, our prosecutors, and thankful for the dutiful work of the judge and jury.  The victims in this case have been given a voice and everyone, especially Roberson, has heard it with unmistakable clarity: the citizens of Alabama will not tolerate corruption and federal prison awaits those who dare test that resolve.”

“I hope the message is clear,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr.  “If you bribe a public official expect the FBI to investigate you, the U.S. Attorney to prosecute you, and you will answer for your crimes. Public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal priority for a reason and we will continue to root it out at every level.”

The FBI and IRS investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Martin, Robin Beardsley Mark and John B. Ward prosecuted.