Talladega Mayor Larry Barton is continuing to recover at University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital after allegedly being assaulted by a former friend and radio and television co-host.
Barton, 74, has identified his alleged attacker as Benny J. Green, 71. Green is a local business owner who has appeared with Barton on the radio and cable-access versions of the show “In The Interest of the People.”
According to a release from the Vestavia Hills Police Department, Green, of Irondale, was charged Monday morning with one count of first-degree assault and was being held on a $150,000 bond.
Although Barton said “no one knows what really happened besides me and Benny,” Birmingham attorney Stewart Springer has said he believes the incident involves a videotape of Barton and Benny’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Charlotte.
Springer said the Greens filed for divorce sometime in 2013, and that he represented Benny for about a year.
Springer says Benny set up a video camera in the back of the liquor store that Charlotte owns in Talladega. Barton says it is no secret that he has an office in the store and has handled the books there for some time.
Springer said he has seen at least part of the tape, and while he declined to go into explicit detail, he did describe the acts shown as “full blown” and added “it gives me hope for when I’m 70.”
There is “absolutely no question” that Barton and Charlotte Green are the couple on the tape, he added. Springer said he is not entirely certain of the date on the tape, but he says it was made prior to the start of divorce proceedings.
His former client confronted Barton about the tape, so Barton is aware of it, Springer added.
Both Barton and his wife, Mary, had been subpoenaed in the Green divorce case, but Springer said as far as he knew, both had been able to avoid testifying so far.
When asked, Barton said he could not comment on the tape because he didn’t know specifically what was on it.
“I keep hearing about this tape, but I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “I do know that it’s illegal to videotape someone without their permission, and I know that Benny is a master Photoshopper. He can do lots of things with a computer … If there is a tape, I will comment on it if I ever see it.”
Barton said he was pulling into the parking lot of the shopping center in the Cahaba Heights area of Vestavia Hills early Saturday morning when the attack occurred. It was between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m., he said.
As he started to open the car door, a person wearing a coat with his head covered jerked the door open and began to assault him with something resembling a sawed-off baseball bat with a leather strap attached.
Barton said he was able to grab the bat with his hands, at which point his assailant began punching him in the face.
“At some point, I was able to stand up and I kneed him in the balls, then I kicked him there twice,” Barton said. “That knocked him down, and I told the people across the street to call the police. He was still on the ground when they got there.”
Barton allegedly recognized his assailant when the hood came off during their brawl. Green did not say anything to him, he added, but Barton said Green had come to Vestavia from Irondale by bicycle and lay in wait.
Barton suffered bruises primarily to his head and legs but no broken bones, he said.
Barton is running for his fourth full term as mayor of Talladega and his fifth term overall. He was convicted of fraud and money laundering during his third term, in the 1990s, and served three years of a four-year sentence in federal prison.
He ran for mayor in 1999, 2003 and 2007 and narrowly lost run-offs before being returning to the mayor’s office in 2011.
Talladega’s municipal elections are Aug. 25.
According to the Vestavia police report, Green attempted to flee the scene on a bicycle but was stopped by bystanders, who held him until the police arrived. He was taken to Brookwood Hospital for medical evaluation before being transported to the Vestavia Hills Municipal Jail.
First-degree assault is a class B felony in Alabama, punishable upon conviction by two to 20 years in prison.