Albert Fall was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on 26th November, 1861. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1891. He worked as a lawyer in Las Cruces, New Mexico and in 1893 was appointed judge of the third judicial district.
Fall served as captain in the First Territorial Infantry during the Spanish-American War. A member of the Republican Party, Fall was elected to the Senate in 1912 and served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of Commerce and Labor.
In March 1921 President Warren Harding appointed Fall as Secretary of the Interior. Soon afterwards he persuaded Edwin Denby, the Secretary of the Navy, that he should take over responsibility for the Naval Reserves at Elk Hills, California, Buena Vista, California and Teapot Dome, Wyoming. Later that year Fall decided that two of his friends, Harry F. Sinclair (Mammoth Oil Corporation) and Edward L. Doheny (Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company), should be allowed to lease part of these Naval Reserves.
Attempts were made to keep this deal secret but rumours began to circulate when it became known that Fall was spending large sums of money on buying new land. On 14th April, 1922, the Wall Street Journal reported that Fall had leased Teapot Dome to Harry F. Sinclair. President Warren Harding defended Fall by claiming that "the policy which has been adopted by the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Interior in dealing with these matters was submitted to me prior to the adoption thereof, and the policy decided upon and the subsequent acts have at all times had my entire approval."
Robert La Follette and John B. Kendrick called for a Senate investigation into Fall and the Naval Reserves. Hearings on the Teapot Dome oil lease began on October 15, 1923 before the Senate Committee on Public Lands and Surveys. Senator Thomas J. Walsh, a Democrat from Montana, led the committee's investigation. Over the next few months, dozens of witnesses testified before the committee. On January 24, 1924, Edward Doheny admitted that he had lent Fall $100,000.
Seven days later the Senate passed a resolution stating that the leases to the Mammoth Oil Company and the Pan American Petroleum Company "were executed under circumstances indicating fraud and corruption". Fall and Edwin Denby were now both forced to resign from office.
On 17th October, 1927, Harry F. Sinclair appeared on trial charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. The trial ended prematurely two weeks later when the government presented evidence that Sinclair had hired a detective agency to shadow the jury. The judge declared a mistrial. Sinclair was tried for criminal contempt of court. Found guilty and he was sentenced to six months in prison.
Fall was now charged accepting a bribe from Doheny. On October 7, 1928 the trial began in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. Even though the trial concerned Fall accepting money from Doheny, the judge allowed M. T. Everhart's testimony showing the financial relationship between Sinclair and Fall. That testimony was used to show that Fall had lied to the Senate committee when he declared that he had not accepted any money from Sinclair. Fall was found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
After his release Fall worked in Three Rivers, New Mexico. Albert Fall died in El Paso, Texas, on 30th November, 1944.