The assistant district attorney for Coosa County and a Gadsden attorney were arrested Wednesday night on charges they used the threat of a capital murder indictment in a 1995 double homicide to extort $5 million.
Assistant D.A. Frank Selman Teel and lawyer Frank Wayne Bailey are charged with extortion, bribery and ethics violations, according to a statement from the state attorney general's office.
The men were arrested at the law office of attorney Jay Stover around 5 p.m., according to authorities.
Stover was hired by another victim, Carl Weaver, who believed he was the target of an extortion scheme.
The Gadsden Times reported Bailey, 58, represented a third man who survived the 1995 incident, Roger Darrell Firestone, of Hokes Bluff, in a potential lawsuit. Teel, 59, of Sylacauga was associated with the case.
"That was the source of their bargaining," Chris Bence, spokesman for Attorney General Troy King, told The Birmingham News.
Charles Thomas Amberson Jr., 41, and Darrell Thomas Coleman, 39, both of Gadsden, died after suffering severe burns in a fire and explosion on May 16, 1995, in the Unity community, the Times reported.
Teel and Bailey were arrested in a joint effort by King's office, the Etowah County Sheriff's and District Attorney's Offices, and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Bence said.
"The arrests were not a culmination, but a step in the process," Bence said. "Further actions and further charges could be coming."
Alabama Department of Public Safety Col. Chris Murphy said the investigation continues.
"We've been working on it for some time," Murphy said. "It wasn't based on just one piece of evidence."
According to warrants provided by the attorney general's office, the extortion scheme began March 24, when Teel, aided by Bailey, tried to get Weaver to write a $1 million check.
Other court documents state Teel agreed to accept a $5 million check in exchange for using "his position to prevent the indictment of Carl Weaver."
Teel was being held Thursday at the Etowah County Jail on bonds totaling $10,000; Bailey on bonds totaling $11,000.
Teel is charged with second-degree extortion, accepting a bribe, and intentional use of his public position for unlawful personal gain.
Bailey is charged with second-degree extortion, accepting a bribe, aiding and abetting Teel in the intentional misuse of Teel's public position, and carrying a concealed pistol without a permit, according to the Etowah County Jail log.
"It's unfortunate. You hate to see folks alleged to be involved in anything
unethical," Murphy said.
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