BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama state Rep. John Rogers has pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempting to obstruct a federal investigation into an alleged kickback scheme involving state grants.
The longtime lawmaker entered the plea Thursday in federal court. His assistant, Varrie Johnson Kindall, also pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and tax charges.
Last month’s indictment accuses Rogers, a Democrat from Birmingham, and Kindall of offering additional grant money as a bribe to persuade a person to give false information to federal agents who were investigating possible kickbacks that prosecutors said were paid to Kindall.
Rogers has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 1982.
Rogers is the second lawmaker arrested in connection with the investigation. Former Rep. Fred Plump Jr. pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy and obstruction charges in part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Prosecutors wrote in the plea agreement that Plump took about $200,000 of the $400,000 in grant funds that Rogers steered to his youth sports league over several years and gave it back to Rogers’ assistant. Plump resigned from the Alabama House of Representatives.
The money came from the Jefferson County Community Service Fund, a pot of tax money distributed by area lawmakers for projects in the county.