Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, enters a car after being released from jail on Nov. 6, 2023. Rogers, who faces two obstruction of justice charges over allegations that he diverted money from a public youth baseball league to an associate, was jailed on Oct. 30 for contacting another witness in the case in violation of a bond. Rogers said the call was inadvertent. (Alander Rocha/Alabama Reflector)
A federal judge Monday released Birmingham Democratic Rep. John Rogers from jail for violating the conditions of his bond.
But Magistrate Judge Staci G. Cornelius added “some additional conditions of release,” as she said to Rogers on Monday morning.
The new conditions include a complete ban on speaking to his codefendants in his obstruction of justice case, including Varrie Johnson Kindall, an administrative assistant with who lived with the representative prior to his arrest and who he is accused of helping divert public money to.
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Rogers must also give a probation officer full access to his phone, and will have to delete any contact for anyone involved in the case from his phone. He will also be required to live at his West End home. Prior to his arrest, he lived with Kindall.
Rogers declined to speak at length to reporters after his release on Monday.
“You were in the courtroom with me,” he said, adding he would say more after the case ended.
The representative’s attorneys suggested at a hearing last week that a guardian be appointed to oversee Rogers, but Cornelius Monday said she did not find it a suitable match.
John Robbins, attorney for Rogers, said after the hearing there had been some negotiations with Cornelius prior to the hearing.
“And I’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Rogers faces two felony charges over allegations that he diverted public money for a youth baseball league to an associate. He was taken into custody on Oct. 30 over allegations that he contacted a witness in the case.
FBI Special Agent Stephen Hudgens said during a hearing on Thursday that “Individual #1,” a witness in the case, reported that Rogers had called him twice via FaceTime, once at 8:17 a.m. and again at 12:11 p.m. that afternoon. Rogers’ attorneys said the representative accidentally made the first call, but not the second.
Rogers testified that the call had been an inadvertent mistake.
The indictment accuses Rogers, who has served in the Alabama House for over 40 years, of directing hundreds of thousands of dollars for public projects in Jefferson County to a youth baseball league, with a portion of the money being kicked back to Kindall, who worked as an administrative assistant for Rogers.
Prosecutors also accused Rogers of attempting to convince a person identified as “Individual #1” to give false information to criminal investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) looking into the transactions.
Rogers’ indictment came months after former Rep. Fred Plump, D-Fairfield, the director of the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League, pleaded guilty to similar charges over the use of public money.
In late May, the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused Plump, a freshman representative, of taking money from the Jefferson County fund under the direction of another Jefferson County legislator identified as “Legislator #1” and kicking back a portion of it to a legislator’s assistant.
Rogers said at the time he was “probably” the unnamed “Legislator #1,” but maintained his innocence.
According to the indictment, between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2022, Rogers received $500,000 from the Jefferson County Community Service Fund for Jefferson County programs. Prosecutors accuse Rogers of moving approximately $400,000 of that discretionary funds to the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League. In turn, Plump gave approximately $200,000 to Kindall.
The indictment says Rogers also moved money from the fund to “Organization #1.” The organization founder, “Individual #1,” then gave a portion of that money to Kindall.
Rogers has served in the Alabama House since 1982. He ran unopposed in the previous two elections. In 2014, he was challenged by Republican Phillip Bahakel but won with almost 77% of the vote.
Rogers is the third representative to face criminal charges this year. Rep. David Cole, R-Huntsville, pleaded guilty to a voting fraud charge and resigned in August after acknowledging he did not live in House district at the time he was elected.
Cornelius told Rogers she would answer any questions he had to prevent another bond revocation hearing.
“Please follow all the conditions of release. Do whatever your supervising officer instructs you to do, follow her instructions,” she said. “And we won’t find ourselves here again.”
Rogers said he understood and thanked the judge.
This story was updated at 11:21 a.m. to include comments for Rogers’ lawyer, John Robbins, and to include more details about the conditions of release.
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