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2008 March 11 - 12:00 am

Federal Agents Raid Office of Lawmaker As Part of Probe Into 2-year Colleges

RAINSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — State Rep. Todd Greeson says his office at Northeast Alabama Community College was raided by federal agents who subpoenaed co-workers in a probe of Alabama’s two-year college system.

Greeson, a Republican, said some of his co-workers were given subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury in Montgomery.

“They were asking (co-workers) if I worked,’’ Greeson told The Times-Journal of Fort Payne.

Meanwhile, two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne confirmed that the hard drive from a state computer used by Greeson was retrieved by the system, but he declined to give the reason.

Greeson is one of more than a dozen legislators who works or had worked for the two-year college system, which has been the focus of a long-running federal and state investigation.

Byrne declined to say whether the hard drive was removed at the request of the U.S. attorney in Birmingham, who has been investigating political and financial corruption in the community college system.

Greeson has a contract for workforce development for Athens State University, an upper-level two-year college administered by the state Board of Education, but the contract is through Northeast Community College. He earns about $46,000 a year under the contract.

He was one of 13 lawmakers working in the two-year college system last year when Byrne announced a policy to require legislators to quit one of the two jobs by 2010.

Greeson is one of two Republicans working in the two-year college system. The other is Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, who works at Gadsden State Community College. The remainder are Democrats.

Greeson said he was in Montgomery during a legislative session when federal agents visited his office. He said nothing appeared to be taken from his office other than the computer’s hard drive.

“I have no ideas what’s going on. There’s a lot of rumors and innuendo flying around,’’ Greeson said.

Greeson said he believes he has been targeted by the investigation of the two-year system so that it would appear to be bipartisan.

“They are claiming they are targeting Democrats and needed a Republican to throw under the bus,’’ Greeson said. “Other than that, I don’t know. I guess I’ve got enemies. There is a lot of animosity over the fights we’ve had over the years.’’

In 2005 Republican lawmakers threatened to censure Greeson, who had said he planned to vote with Democrats on a procedural vote that GOP members had hoped to use to block consideration of a funding bill.

Jill Ellis, a spokeswoman with U.S. Attorney Alice Martin’s office in Birmingham, said she could not confirm or deny if Greeson was being investigated.

State Rep. Sue Schmitz, a Democrat, was arrested last month and has pleaded not guilty to a nine-count federal indictment charging her with mail fraud and theft. She was accused of taking $177,251 in pay from a program affiliated with Alabama’s two-year colleges yet doing virtually no work. 

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