California businessman pleads guilty in corruption case

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The head of a California-based health care company pleaded guilty Friday to trying to bribe an Alabama lawmaker to push legislation that would benefit his clinics.

G. Ford Gilbert, the owner of Trina Health clinics, pleaded guilty in Montgomery federal court to conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said Gilbert was trying to use legislative influence to pressure Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama to cover a diabetes treatment at his clinics.

Prosecutors said Gilbert in 2016 paid $2,000 to then-House Majority Leader Micky Ray Hammon of Decatur to quietly generate support for legislation that would require the insurer to cover the treatment. The bill did not pass.

Hammon was removed from the Alabama Legislature in 2017 when he pleaded guilty to using campaign funds for personal use.

The case has ensnared several lawmakers.

State Rep. Jack Williams of Vestavia Hills, Rep. Randy Davis and lobbyist Marty Connors were also indicted in the case.

Attorneys said previously that Williams applied for pretrial diversion which could lead to the charges being dropped. Prosecutors said Williams agreed to hold a public hearing on the bill that Gilbert was pushing.

Newly unsealed court documents show that Connors and Davis are also seeking pretrial diversion and had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify if needed.

Gilbert will be sentenced in April.