Sheriff Mike Blakely’s defense team is asking a judge to dismiss four of his 11 criminal charges, arguing that the Alabama Attorney General’s office is moving to prosecute the 10-term sheriff.
Blakely’s lawyers on Sunday afternoon — two days after opening statements in his criminal trial — filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss four felony counts of plagiarism alleging plagiarism from his campaign. .
The motion argues that Blakely cannot be guilty of theft because he is, at the very least, an “interested party” in funding his campaign. Lawyers wrote that the allegations of theft are “inadequate and prejudicial”.
State prosecutors have yet to respond in court records, and specifically pointed Judge Pamela Buschub has not yet ruled on the defense motion.
The trial will continue on Monday morning and on the first day of testimony, the courthouse in downtown Athens, Limestone County seat.
[Read more: 5 takeaways from jury selection in Sheriff Blakely’s trial]
State prosecutors, filing their case Friday, told a Limestone County jury that Blakely took four campaign donations—a total of $11,000—and deposited them into his personal account instead of his campaign account. Kyle Beckman, an assistant attorney general, said Blakely used campaign funds to avoid a bank overdraft on his personal account.
For example, back in December of 2014, Blakely was re-elected to a ninth term and accepted a $1,500 donation from the Alabama Realtors Political Action Committee. He deposited the check into his personal account, Beckman told the jury. A few days later, Beckman said, more than $1,000 would have been withdrawn into Blakely’s personal account if she hadn’t deposited a realtor’s check.
Prosecutors said the campaign finance report would show that Blakely did not disclose or report the donation, as is required by law. Beckman told the jury that Blakely was required to disclose donations under the Fair Campaign Practice Act, which also mandates that candidates use their campaign donations only for campaigning or to perform the duties of their elected office. can do for
In its motion, Blakely’s defense team argued that not only is Blakely not guilty of theft, but he also cannot be charged under the Fair Campaign Practice Act because the two-year limit has already passed.
“…it was not the intent of the legislature to extend the theft of property laws to cover violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act; nor, did the legislature intend to extend their two (2) years for a violation of the Fair Campaign Practices Act. was to prosecute beyond the limitation period of time,” said the motion filed by defense attorneys Robert Tutten, Nick Heatherley, Marcus Helstosky and Nick Luff.
The lawyers wrote that they decided to file the motion on Friday after hearing a preliminary statement by the Alabama Attorney General’s office.
The resolution states, “…it is absolutely clear that the State intends to use the evasion of property laws … beyond its intended purpose to run cases intended by the legislature.”
In addition to four felony theft counts, Blakely has been charged with five felony counts of using his position for personal gain and one misdemeanor theft count.
In August of 2019 a Limestone County grand jury convicted the sheriff of 13 charges. Last year a judge dismissed Blakely’s two charges — one count of theft and one count of using his position for personal gain — after prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss him.
Beckman told a jury in downtown Athens on Friday that Blakely was once at a Mississippi casino when he was supposed to go on a taxpayer-funded convention trip to Alabama, that the sheriff would regularly borrow money secured from inmates in his prison and that he forced county inmates to work for a man who gave Blackley $50,000 to pay off a $30,000 loan.
Blakely’s lead counsel Tuten told the jury that the state could not prove “intent” and that the sheriff had committed no crime.
“There’s no missing money,” he told the jury.
[Read more: 11 things to know about Sheriff Mike Blakely’s trial]
Blakely has been sheriff in Limestone, a rapidly developing county with less than 100,000 residents in the Huntsville Metro since 1983.
He is one of several county officials – others include a judge, a former commissioner and two school superintendents – who have come under scrutiny for corruption in the past two years.