Alabama state Treasurer Melba Till Allen, who personally decides which state banks get what portion of more than $400 million in state deposits, was accused yesterday of using her office to get loans and other favors for herself.
The Alabama Ethics Commission recently reported that Allen, while getting an annual salary of about $23,000 had been a party to almost $3 million in loans since she took office in 1974.
A Montgomery County grand jury yesterday returned four indictments accusing her of getting favors by wrongly using the office she holds.
Allen, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, surrended herself to the county sheriff's department and was released on bond.
In addition to allegedly using her influence over state money in return for loans for herself, Allen is charged with accepting the use of a plane belonging to a ctontroversial Pensacola, Fla., businessman, Ed Gregory, who until recently owned five banks in Alabama.
If Allen is found guilty of all the charges against her, she could receive up to 33 years in prison and $33,000 in fines.
Revelations concerning her financial empire emerged last year after a fire destroyed the main building at her "Star Over Alabama" amusement park project in the northwest part of the state.
The Birmingham News discovered a tangle of finances associated with the project and reported last fall that the state treasurer apparently had not reported all her loans to the ethics commission. When the commission investigate, it asked that all banks in Alabama report any actions with the 45-year-old Allen.
The commission found that Allen, on her annual salary of about $23,000 had loans to her or her interests of $2,929,964.61 from banks in the state.
Further, the banks reported to the ethics commission that Allen - individually, with her family, in partnership or as a corporate officer - got 130 loans from 58 banks in 31 of Alabama's 67 counties since 1974, when she was elected treasurer.
Of the 130 loans, 78 totalled $1,725,950.73 and were still owed as of last Dec. 1.