30 comments Attorney: Former JCCEO leader Gayle Cunningham's 'misplaced trust' led to theft

By Kent Faulk | kfaulk@al.com

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The attorney for Gayle Cunningham, the former executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity who has agreed to plead guilty to her role in the theft of nearly $500,000 from the group, said that the theft stemmed from her being deceived by another person.

"Ms. Cunningham is a delightful, gracious person who has devoted her entire adult life to JCCEO from its infancy," said Cunningham's attorney, Tommy Spina. "Her accomplishments are many and her life should not be defined by this act of misappropriation."

"This case arises out of her misplaced trust in an unscrupulous individual (in some real estate transactions) who essentially took advantage of her and left her saddled with debt," Spina said.

Spina later identified the individual who he says took advantage of Cunningham as the Rev. Robert Paul Hollman, 48, formerly of Dothan. Hollman, mortgage broker Brad Bozeman, 34, of Hoover, and Cunningham's daughter also also were charged and have entered plea agreements related to an FBI mortgage fraud investigation, federal authorities announced Friday.

In an effort to continue paying these debts she misappropriated non-federal funds from a JCCEO project, the home revival project, Spina said.

"It was never her intent to do harm to the agency she did so much to develop," Spina said. "It was always her intent to sell the properties and to deposit those dollars into the home revival project account. Regretfully, only one property sold and those sales proceeds were deposited with JCCEO."

To date, Cunningham has repaid approximately $296,000 and plans to pay the balance in full soon, Spina said. "She deeply regrets tarnishing JCCEO because of her actions and breaching the trust that had been given to her," he said.

Recent News