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Appeals Court upholds Limestone sheriff’s conviction

The former sheriff had asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to declare a mistrial after the AG’s office hid an investigation of a witness.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely
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The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday upheld the conviction of former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely on theft and ethics charges. 

Blakely, convicted on two counts in August 2021, claimed in his appeal, among other things, that that a mistrial should have been declared in his case because the Alabama Attorney General’s Office hid the fact that it was actively investigating a material witness – going so far as to repeatedly claim that it was unaware of any investigation before finally admitting to the investigation after the witness testified. 

However, while the Appeals Court acknowledged the odd circumstances, it said Blakely failed to show that the disclosure of the investigation would have led to a different defense tactic. It also noted that Blakely’s defense team “appeared to be more aware” of the investigation into the witness than the state.

The Appeals Court also denied Blakely’s motion to overturn an ethics charge due to a lack of evidence. 

In that instance, Blakely was convicted for borrowing money from inmate funds for short-term loans. It was a common practice among sheriff’s office employees for a number of years, according to a state audit, but auditors also noted that the borrowed monies were always paid back. That included roughly $29,000 in loans taken by Blakely. 

However, the Appeals Court found that Blakely’s loans were for dollar amounts high enough, and the loans were for periods of time long enough, that a jury could reasonably determine that receiving such loans interest free constituted using his office for personal gain. 

Blakely was sentenced to three years in prison following his conviction, but he remains free on bond while he appeals.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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