MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Rep. Greg Wren, one of Alabama's veteran Republican legislators, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor ethics violation and agreed to assist prosecutors with an ongoing investigation of state government.
Wren, 59, of Montgomery, resigned from the Alabama Legislature effective immediately as a condition of the plea deal, according to a copy of the agreement.
Wren acknowledged taking action in the Alabama Legislature that could have steered Medicaid business to a Bessemer pharmacy cooperative that had ties to another company that hired Wren as an $8,000-a-month consultant, according to the plea agreement.
"Public servants who violate their oath of office in order to achieve personal gain should expect to be held accountable," acting Attorney General Van Davis said in a statement.
Davis was appointed as acting attorney general in the case after Attorney General Luther Strange recused himself. Davis said the guilty plea marked "a significant point in the ongoing investigation."
Wren's attorney, James Anderson, said Wren did not know about the relationship between the two companies. He said it was a misdemeanor because it was an unintentional violation of state ethics law.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Wren said, "I'm kind of glad to have this behind me. It's been a difficult process. I look forward to the future and just a change in scenery."
Wren was first elected to the Alabama Legislature in 1994.
According to the plea agreement, Wren was paid by a national company called RxAlly, owned in part by a pharmacy cooperative in Bessemer. The president of the cooperative also served on the board of directors for RxAlly.
Wren, according to the plea deal, helped put language in the state General Fund budget last year that set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager that might eventually be hired by the Alabama Medicaid Agency.
The Bessemer-based pharmacy cooperative was the only company that met the requirements, according to the plea deal
State Health Officer Don Williamson said the Medicaid agency did not ask for that language, and that only one company would qualify under the language, and that was the Bessemer company.
The language was later stripped by the Alabama Senate.
Wren also gave RxAlly confidential state documents that showed proposals submitted to the state Medicaid agency by competing companies and Medicaid's analysis of those proposals, according to the plea agreement.
District Judge Jimmy Pool gave Wren a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay $24,000, the amount he was paid by RxAlly, in restitution to the state.