Alabama father, son indicted in investment fraud scheme

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama attorney and his son are accused of defrauding investors and a bank out of millions of dollars.

An indictment was handed down Thursday against Donald V. Watkins Sr., 70, of Atlanta, and Donald V. Watkins Jr., 46, of Birmingham, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Jay Town. Each faces multiple counts of wire and bank fraud and one count of conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that from 2007 until 2014, the pair induced investors to pay millions into an account that was supposed to grow two companies they were associated with. According to the indictment, the money was used for other costs, including alimony and clothing.

Watkins and his son are also charged with conspiring to obtain loans from Alamerica Bank through an allegedly fraudulent scheme involving the use of a third party to take out the loans on their behalf, according to the statement.

"Persons who defraud investors through material misrepresentations, omissions, and lies must be held accountable," said lead prosecutor, Lloyd Peeples in a press statement. "As set forth in today's indictment, the defendants mislead numerous individual investors and used their investments for unrelated purposes."

The elder Watkins released a statement saying the charges are bogus and he's confident he and his son will beat them.

"The allegations in the indictment represent a politically motivated and self-serving narrative to portray my son and me in the most negative light possible. These allegations are aimed at destroying my businesses and chilling my exercise of free speech," said Watkins who writes news articles for his own website and Facebook page.

"In my case, the charges against me are completely unfounded," the younger Watkins said in a statement released later Thursday. "Obviously, I was added as a defendant in this case to put pressure on my father. But it will not work because I have never done anything illegal and neither has my father. And we will prove it when the time comes."

Watkins Sr. noted that his son worked for him during the period covered by the indictment. "My son is now an innocent hostage in this high-stakes political drama."

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