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October 30, 2019

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Attorney General Steve Marshall, FBI Announce Felony Ethics Conviction of Now Former Birmingham Water Works Chairwoman Sherry Lewis

(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Steve Marshall and the Birmingham Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the conviction today of Sherry Lewis, now former chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Water Works, for two felony counts of violating the state ethics law. Under state law, she no longer holds her position upon her felony conviction.

Lewis was convicted this morning by a jury in Jefferson County Circuit Court following a six-day trial, and immediately taken into custody. Specifically, she was convicted of using her official position for personal gain and for voting or participating on a matter in which she or her family had a financial interest or gain. Lewis was taken into custody after the verdicts were returned.

Presiding Judge Clyde Jones set Lewis’ sentencing for December 12, when she faces a potential sentence of two to 20 years imprisonment for each of the class B felonies for which she was convicted.

Attorney General Marshall’s Special Prosecutions Division partnered with special agents in the FBI’s Birmingham Division in an investigation into allegations of corruption in the Birmingham Water Works and its independent engineer of record, Arcadis (formerly known as Malcolm Pirnie), as well as Arcadis subcontractor, Global Solutions International, Inc.

“This verdict should send a strong message that public corruption in Alabama will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Attorney General Marshall. “Former Birmingham Water Works chairwoman Sherry Lewis was entrusted with a duty to serve the people and instead she broke that trust for the benefit of herself and her family. Targeting public corruption is a priority for my office and I appreciate the assistance of the FBI in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”

FBI Birmingham Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jonnie Sharp Jr., said, “Public officials, like Lewis, who use their position for private gain undermine the integrity of government and erode the public’s trust in the very framework of our democracy. That is why public corruption remains the FBI’s top criminal priority and we will continue to work with our partners to combat corruption at every level. “

Prosecutors presented evidence that Lewis obtained three jobs for her son through various subcontractors. Evidence also showed that Lewis and members of her family accepted meals and entertainment, including tickets to the 2015 Cotton Bowl, from Arcadis Vice President Jerry Jones even after State law changed in 2015 clearly prohibiting such conduct. Evidence also revealed that Arcadis is currently attempting to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Birmingham Water Works Board, based on information relating to the investigation.

Jones and Terry Williams, the owner of one of the subcontractors who provided jobs and other expenses to Lewis and her son, are awaiting trial in state and federal courts for conduct related to the joint state-federal investigation.

Attorney General Marshall thanked the Birmingham Division of the FBI for partnering with his Special Prosecutions Division to investigate this matter. He commended Assistant Attorney General Clark Morris, chief of the Special Prosecutions Division, Deputy Attorney General James Houts, and Assistant Attorneys General Jasper Roberts, Kyle Beckman and Peggy Rossmanith, as well as investigators in the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division.

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