On the eighth floor of the Gulfport federal courthouse, prosecutors said they had proof of a bank fraud scheme orchestrated by 38 year old Al Bodden.
"On May 18, 2006, Bodden called the FBI case agent and admitted that he had submitted a fraudulent loan to Navigator Credit Union," says assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth Morgan as she read the facts in open court.
She also said Bodden admitted he had forged a signature.
"I'm sorry," Bodden says after his court appearance. "I take responsibility for my actions. I take responsibility for anything that happened at the dealership."
According to the facts read in court, Bodden used an old customer's name, and that person's expired drivers license to receive a $26,000 loan from the credit union. When the customer, David Mitchell, received a loan payment book in the mail on April 3, he called authorities and told them somebody used his identification illegally.
Prosecutors said Mitchell agreed to wear a recording device when he met with Bodden to talk about the loan book, because the loan was supposedly for a car bought at Al Bodden's Supercenter. Less than three weeks later, investigators had evidence tying the Moss Point car dealer to bank fraud.
"I'm very sorry for the things that happened. And right now, especially for my family, I want to get this behind me and move forward," Bodden says.
A few of Bodden's family members sat through his court appearance. A couple of them were his victims in some of the other fraud cases investigators said they knew about. The FBI actually collected evidence that linked Bodden to five other fraudulent loans that totalled $101,903. But those cases got dropped when he pleaded guilty to count 12 of the 13 count indictment.
Bodden told investigators he committed the frauds because he was having financial problems and needed the money to continue his business. Outside the courtroom, he wouldn't elaborate.
"My attorney has already told me we can go into details after sentencing. But he didn't want to go into a lot of details today," Bodden says.
Bodden walked away from the federal courthouse a convicted felon, and a former Moss Point Alderman. Since felons can't hold public offices, his resignation took effect right before he entered his guilty plea.
"I certainly hope in the future I can help serve in a different capacity. And I'll do my best to do that," he says.
Bodden's sentencing is March 6, 2007. Because he pleaded guilty to bank fraud, Bodden could serve 30 years in prison. And his fine could be as much as a million dollars. However, part of his plea agreement included a government recommendation for a much shorter sentence.