MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said a man has pleaded guilty to using a forged document -- said to be from the Attorney General's Office -- to try to hide his criminal record from a prospective employer.

In a statement released Thursday, Strange said Neal Mathias Reisel, 28, pleaded guilty on Wednesday afternoon in Madison County Circuit Court to second-degree possession of a forged instrument.

"By using a forged government document to hide his criminal background, this defendant's actions were a serious attempt to compromise this office," Strange said in a statement.

"Due to the vigilance of the company he attempted to deceive, and the good work of investigators and prosecutors within the Attorney General's Office, Reisel's crimes were discovered and he will be punished in court."

According to Strange's office, after Reisel's selection as a prospective sales agent for the Liberty National Insurance office in Huntsville, a background inquiry revealed that he had been convicted of a first-degree robbery in Limestone County and the company declined to hire him. But Reisel denied having a criminal record and claimed he had been a victim of identity theft and that someone else who was using his name had been arrested and convicted.

The man then faxed a letter to Liberty National Insurance's home office, purporting to be from an assistant attorney general at the Alabama Attorney General's Office. The letter stated, among other things, that the Attorney General's Office was working to help Reisel restore his good public record, that the office stipulated that Reisel did not participate in the crimes for which he was charged, and that this was a case of identity theft.

Liberty National Insurance contacted the assistant attorney general, who examined the letter that was purportedly written by her and determined that it was a forgery.

The assistant attorney general said neither she nor anyone in her division ever wrote the letter and that the letter was not typed in the style that she and the other assistant attorneys general used.

Reisel finally admitted that he possessed the forged letter on March 24, 2008 and that he had, in fact, been convicted of first-degree robbery in Limestone County on October 22, 2007.

Following his confession, Strange's office presented evidence to a Madison County grand jury resulting in Reisel's indictment for second-degree possession of a forged instrument. He was arrested on Dec. 8, 2008, and has remained in jail since that time, the Attorney General's Office said.

Sentencing will be set at a later date, Strange said.

Second-degree possession of a forged instrument is a class C felony, punishable by one year and one day to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000 for the class C felony. Due to Reisel's prior conviction, he faces a penalty of two to 20 years imprisonment and a $30,000 fine under the Alabama Habitual Offender Act, the Attorney General's Office said.

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