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Birmingham Lawmaker John Rogers to Resign, Plead Guilty in Federal Corruption Case

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After serving more than 40 years in the Alabama legislature, Rep. John Rogers will resign and plead guilty to federal felony charges in a kickback scheme that also brought down his longtime assistant and another lawmaker. (File)

By Hannah Denham | hdenham@al.com

After serving more than 40 years in the Alabama legislature, Rep. John Rogers will resign and plead guilty to federal felony charges in a kickback scheme that also brought down his longtime assistant and another lawmaker.

Rogers, 83, signed an agreement to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to court documents made public on Monday. A federal grand jury first indicted Rogers in September for his involvement in a scheme to misuse public money intended to support nonprofits.

He could face years in prison. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.

When AL.com called Rogers’ phone number on Monday afternoon, an error message said that it was not a working number. His attorney, John Robbins, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rogers, D-Birmingham, will resign from the Alabama House of Representatives, where he’s represented the city and parts of the metro area since 1982. Court records say he will resign immediately after a federal judge accepts his guilty plea.

Rogers also agreed to pay nearly $200,000 to the Jefferson County Community Service Fund as restitution, per the plea agreement. In exchange, his other 18 charges will be dismissed.

The plea agreement, which Rogers signed earlier this month, says that he directed about $400,000 from the community service fund to the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League, a nonprofit run by Fred Plump, between 2019 and 2023. Plump kicked about $200,000 of that funding back to Rogers and his assistant, Varrie Johnson Kindall, per the plea agreement. Plump pleaded guilty and resigned from the Alabama legislature last June.

The plea agreement also says that Rogers and Kindall carried out another kickback scheme involving money intended for an unnamed organization in 2019. In that case, the nonprofit received $10,000 and its founder gave $1,800 to Rogers and Kindall as an “administration fee,” per the plea agreement. Rogers previously identified the founder as George Stewart, who leads the American Gospel Quartet Convention.

In February, Kindall also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. She worked for Rogers for many years, both as a personal and legislative assistant.

It was part of Rogers’ scheme with Kindall for her to accept “full responsibility” for any crimes and to say that he was not involved, per the plea agreement. In exchange, Rogers promised to “pay Kindall’s mortgage and take care of her children if Kindall went to jail,” the plea agreement reads.

The maximum punishment for each of Rogers’ charges includes a fine capped at $250,000, and supervised release of no more than three years, per his plea agreement. For the conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charge, the maximum punishment is up to 20 years in prison; for conspiracy to obstruct justice, it’s up to five years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended that the judge reduce his charges and sentence him to a stint in prison followed by supervised release.