Dead Tuscaloosa Co. Inmate's Family Files Suit, Bentley Testifies in Hubbard Ethics Trial

Jun 2, 2016

Philip Anderson's family protests in Tuscaloosa.
Credit Pat Duggins / APR

The family of a dead Tuscaloosa County prison inmate is defending him before the press. APR’s Pat Duggins met with Philip Anderson’s relatives who are filing a federal civil rights suit.

“...it hurts…he was my best friend…”

Erika Fykes is Phillip Anderson’s youngest daughter. She says she got the phone call from her father’s cellmates saying that Anderson had been screaming in pain for a week. Only then, his family claims, did jail officials take him to a hospital. Anderson later died on the operating table from a perforated ulcer.

Kimberly Coats is his oldest sister.

“We went down thinking he was fine, because the chief said he was fine. And we went to the hospital and that’s when the doctors told us he had passed away.”

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy and three of his aides are listed among the defendants in the Anderson family’s federal civil rights suit.

The men behind two political scandals in Alabama met in an Opelika courtroom yesterday.

Governor Robert Bentley testified in House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s felony ethics trial. Prosecutors questioned the governor over meetings with Hubbard on behalf of two of Hubbard’s clients. There are allegations that the speaker illegally profited from meetings like this.

Former state house member and political commentator Steve Flowers attended the proceedings. He says having the Governor on the stand made a big impression on the jurors.

“It put an aura around the courtroom. It put a more gravitas to the situation because of the office of Governor. It made them realize they were part of a big, big case—which I think they probably knew already.”

Governor Bentley is embroiled in a scandal of his own after making sexually explicit comments to a former female aide. An investigation is underway into his actions. Bentley and Hubbard both maintain they did nothing wrong.

Jonathan Dunning kept calling the shots at Central Alabama Comprehensive Health clinic in Tuskegee up to two years after he stepped down as CEO, according to testimony in Dunning’s federal trial.

The former nonprofit CEO is facing well over a hundred charges of fraud and conspiracy after being indicted in 2014. He is accused of diverting millions of dollars in federal money meant for treating poor and homeless patients into his own companies.

Yesterday’s testimony revealed that Dunning retained control of one of the two community health clinics he’s accused of stealing funds from well after he stepped down as CEO. Dunning was replaced by Alan Yoe as CEO of Central Alabama Comprehensive Health in 2009, but multiple employees testified Dunning continued to call the shots until at least 2011. Prosecutors allege that included setting up contracts to funnel government money from the clinic into Dunning’s other businesses.

Three other former employees of the clinics have pleaded guilty in connection to the fraud allegations. Dunning’s trial continues today.