KIMBERLY, ALABAMA - Kimberly Mayor Craig Harris was an undercover informant for the FBI for almost a year, wearing a camera and wire for the agency as it investigated illegal gambling operations in his city, the mayor confirmed today.
Federal court documents filed last week outline some of the mayor’s cooperation with the FBI, which started in late 2010 after Harris was contacted by a community member and offered a bribe to help protect the Kimberly gambling interests of several individuals.
Harris said he immediately contacted the Alabama Attorney General’s office about the bribe, which informed the FBI.
“I initiated the investigation,” Harris said.
The results of that ongoing investigation are just now unfolding, Harris said.
Last week, a plea agreement was filed between the federal government and Morris resident Daniel “Boone” Stone, one of nine co-conspirators mentioned in court documents. That agreement, signed by Stone, was filed in the United States District Court in Birmingham.
The agreement states that Stone will cooperate with the federal government and plead guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and operating an illegal gambling business, according to court documents. In exchange, the federal government agrees to a sentencing range of six to 12 months imprisonment and fines ranging between $2,000 to $20,000. The court must approve the agreement. The other nine co-conspirators remain unnamed in court documents, although one was referred to as Stone’s father.
News attempts to reach an attorney representing Daniel Stone, Scott Morro, were unsuccessful today.
As the investigation continues, Harris said he is prepared to testify in court as many times as needed by the federal government.
The mayor said he worked as an undercover informant from late 2010 until November 2011. During that time, from about December 2010 until April 2011, Harris said he was given about $125 a week for each gaming facility operated by the co-conspirators in Kimberly. After each payment, Harris said he immediately turned the money over to the FBI to be used as evidence.
The federal government confirms in court documents that Harris was cooperating with agents the entire time of the investigation.
In exchange for taking the money, Harris said he was expected to keep the Kimberly Police Department from investigating those gambling businesses and to alert the co-conspirators if he heard about a possible raid or investigation.
The total amount of money paid to Harris was not listed in court documents. Harris said he did not want to give any details that might harm the investigation, but he said the total amount reached several thousand dollars.
Harris said today that he is relieved that his involvement with the investigation is now public.
Rumors have recently swirled around Kimberly that Harris was involved in a federal investigation, the mayor said. But some of the rumors implied that he was the one being investigated, Harris said.
“There were things being said around town and it got to the (city) council,” Harris said. “I could tell them that yes, there is something going on. But I couldn’t tell them what. I wasn’t going to jeopardize a year and a half investigation. I just wasn’t going to do that.”
Harris said his relationship with the co-conspirators prior to the investigation ranged from vague acquaintances to “fairly friendly.” He said he was familiar with Daniel Stone through Stone’s part-ownership in an IGA grocery store that was located in Kimberly before it closed.
“There were a couple that I would consider not best friends, but more than acquaintances,” Harris said. “If I saw them out in a restaurant, I may go have a drink with them.”
An arraignment for Stone is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday in U.S. District Court. Court documents show that the investigation goes beyond the city limits of Kimberly and includes other surrounding areas in north Jefferson County.