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Corruption

Lee County DA Brandon Hughes pleads guilty to two counts

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Hughes has agreed to a three-year sentence for both counts, split to serve 10 months in jail.

Former Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes.

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office on Thursday announced that former Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes has pleaded guilty to two felony counts, perjury in the first degree and the use of his public office for personal gain.

The two counts were part of an indictment being tried before specially-appointed Lee County Circuit Judge Pamela Baschab. Hughes will be formally sentenced at a later date.

Hughes’ plea of guilty came on the second day of testimony during his trial. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Hughes has agreed to a three-year sentence for both counts, split to serve 10 months in jail. Additionally, Hughes will be required to pay back the Lee County District Attorney’s Fund $14,000 in legal fees related to the use of his public office for personal gain and to pay restitution to a Chambers County business related to a dismissed charge.

Hughes previously had been suspended from office as a result of his indictment. The court’s acceptance of his plea of guilty means that Hughes has been permanently removed from office and Gov. Kay Ivey will be able to appoint someone to finish Hughes term as DA.

While Hughes pleaded guilty to two counts, that is considerably less than what he was originally indicted for. Hughes had been indicted for five counts of violating the state ethics act for using his office for personal gain, including paying private attorneys with public funds to settle a matter that benefited himself and his wife. He was also charged with illegally hiring his three children to work for his office.

The grand jury also indicted Hughes on a charge of illegally using his office for personal benefit by issuing a district attorney’s subpoena to a private business to gather evidence for his defense to potential criminal charges.

Hughes had also been charged with conspiring to steal a pickup truck for allegedly agreeing with others to steal the truck from a Chambers County business by using a Lee County search warrant to force the business to release possession of the 1985 Ford Ranger.

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Hughes was also charged with first-degree perjury for providing false testimony to the special grand jury.

Marshall recused himself since Marshall and Hughes both served together in the Alabama District Attorney’s Association. The case was handled by Chief Deputy Attorney General Clay Crenshaw. Crenshaw thanked the staff of the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division, specifically Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Clark Morris, Assistant Attorney General Jasper Roberts, and paralegals Jennifer Means-Marsh and Alana Cammack. Crenshaw also expressed his appreciation of valuable assistance provided by the Alabama Ethics Commission and the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.

Under Marshall there have been a steady stream of corruption-related prosecutions and convictions. These include judges, sheriffs, a former member of the Birmingham Waterworks board, state employees, local officials, government contractors and former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.

Marshall is running for re-election next year. The Republican primary will be May 24, 2022.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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