The mayor of Mt. Vernon was charged with felony ethics violations Wednesday in an ongoing corruption probe into the Birmingham Water Works Board that investigators claim has uncovered bribery and public officials using their office for personal gain.
Terry Williams, 62, was not charged with any criminal activity related to his position as the mayor of Mt. Vernon, which is a northern Mobile County town with a population of roughly 1,500 people. According to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, it was Williams’ private career that led to the charges he currently faces in Jefferson County.
Williams was the former owner of Global Solutions International Inc, which according to state business records, was formed in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 2010. He was charged along with BWWB board member Sherry Lewis and Jerry Jones, the former vice president of Arcadis Inc.
According to a press release from Marshall’s office, Arcadis previously served as the independent engineer of record for the BWWB board, and during at least some of that time, the firm utilized Global Solutions International as a subcontractor.Though the exact details of the alleged scheme remain unclear, investigators believe Jones, who has since been terminated by Arcadis for “violating company policy,” used Williams’ business to pass money to Lewis and members of her family in exchange for corrupt acts taken in her official capacity on the BWWB board.
Lewis is also accused of voting on matters in which she or her family members had a financial interest, though an attorney representing her has denied all of those charges. If convicted, each of the defendants could face up to 20 years in prison and fines as high as $30,000.
While Marshall has offered no further information about the charges, he emphasized in a statement that the investigation into BWWB wasn’t over, adding that his office has made a priority of holding accountable any official “who violates the public’s trust.”
While Lewis, Jones and Williams are accused of violating state ethics laws, the Birmingham Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been assisting state investigators with the corruption probe.
“Public corruption continues to be the FBI’s highest criminal priority because it erodes the public’s trust and rips at the fabric of democracy,” Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Share Jr. said. “If you know something about a corrupt public official, call us. Then rest assured that the FBI and our partners will act on your information.”