As a Birmingham criminal defense attorney, I have seen a wide of criminal indictments for crimes ranging from drug manufacturing and computer fraud to assault and murder. If there is one thing I am certain of, that is every citizen’s right to a fair criminal trail and to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Just last month, two men from Lauderdale County, AL, were charged with extorting money from individuals in northern Alabama. According to news articles, the two posed on numerous occasions as private investigators using their false personas as a way to get money from their alleged victims.
The two men are reportedly both from Florence, Alabama. According to reports, 44-year-old Mark Douglas Wilson and 47-year-old Gregory Jones Harrison were charged with second-degree extortion by law enforcement authorities — this is a Class C felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison following a conviction. The recent arrests came following allegations against the two and a subsequent probe by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.
Officials at the ABI allege that Harrison and Wilson presented themselves as private investigators working under contract with the ABI to conduct investigations into criminal activities. The two men are accused of attempting to extort large sums of money from the various individuals they had targeted.
According to information provided by the ABI, the suspects apparently explained to the victims that their names were included on a list of persons involved in criminal activity and that they would be arrested in an upcoming roundup by law enforcement. The extortion came in the form of promises to remove those person’s names from the fictitious list in exchange for certain payments.
Investigation into the alleged extortion arrangement commenced after the ABI was contacted by a local businessman who said he had been approached by Harrison and Wilson. The investigation reportedly lasted a little more than one week. Following the arrest the two suspects were placed in the Lauderdale County Detention Center until they were released on bail of $1,000 each.
Two local men charged with extortion, TimesDaily.com, January 23, 2010