Security beefed up for Alabama officials

Security beefed up for Alabama officials

Security details have increased for Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, left, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr., new commander of the Governor's Task Force on Illegal Gambling, and other state officials. (Associated Press)

Security details have been assigned to Alabama Department of Public Safety Director Chris Murphy, former Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber and Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, the new commander of the governor's anti-gambling task force.

Sources familiar with the situation said Gov. Bob Riley's security detail also has been increased, and security has been offered to some members of his administration.

According to sources with firsthand knowledge of the situation, there have been in recent days threats made against Riley, Barber and Murphy. Sources said the threats ranged from vague to specific, with some threats of a particularly menacing nature.

Tyson was named Monday to head the governor's anti-gambling task force. Barber was task force commander but resigned earlier this month after winning $2,300 at a Mississippi casino.

Jeff Emerson, Riley's communications director, said the administration does not comment on security matters.

Barber also refused to discuss the security, as did DPS officials.

Tyson, reached at his office in Mobile, said he would not comment on the specific nature of the threats or on security issues. But Tyson did reiterate a statement he made Monday after Riley appointed him to succeed Barber.

"I said Monday that when (gambling magnate) Milton McGregor hired a private detective to follow Mr. Barber it came close to an obstruction of justice in my view. The same applies in this situation.

"Anyone found to have made threats against law enforcement officials in an attempt to somehow stop them from carrying out their duties are engaging in an obstruction of justice at a minimum, and I intend to immediately look into the matter," Tyson said.

McGregor told The Press-Register last week that he had hired an investigator to follow Barber to the Golden Moon casino in Philadelphia, Miss. He claimed he put into motion the chain of events that led to Barber resigning by leaking word to Riley through an intermediary that he had proof Barber had been gambling. Riley's office denied that claim.

The sources said state police investigators have in some cases been followed, have had their pictures taken, their car tags photographed and have in some cases been threatened with harm.

(Copyright: The Birmingham News)


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