Alabama man pleads guilty in fingerprint system bribery case

April 2, 2013 - 

A former supervisor for the Alabama Department of Public Safety has pleaded guilty to bribery, in regards to accepting kickbacks for recommending a particular fingerprint system being set up to run criminal checks.

James E. Potts has admitted to accepting bribes from Leland J. “Sonny” McDowell in exchange for recommending a Southern Detention Technologies Inc. fingerprint machine. According to a report in the Montgomery Advisor, in the federal indictment, McDowell said that if Potts would recommend the company, he would pay him at least $1,700 up front and then $1 for every fingerprint scan the system processed.

Potts left the Department of Public Safety in 2008 and McDowell is currently a city councilman in Grovetown, Georgia and his term runs through the end of 2013. According to The Columbia County News-Times, Grovetown Mayor George James has said that if McDowell pleads guilty or is convicted, he will be removed from city council. McDowell’s trial is still ongoing.

“Contracts with the State of Alabama should be won fairly, not because of a bribe,” U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr said in a release on the arraignment from last year. “When someone wins a contract because of a bribe, it corrupts the entire system. My office will not stand by and let that happen in this District or in this State. We will continue to vigorously prosecute those who corrupt a fair contract bidding system.

The same release states that if convicted, the defendants face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.


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Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj