Judge in ethics case warns counsel over plea deal - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Judge in ethics case warns counsel over plea deal

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Masters' misdemeanor charge stems from misappropriation of funds, but he also faces a separate civil suit. Masters' misdemeanor charge stems from misappropriation of funds, but he also faces a separate civil suit.
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MARSHALL COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

The Marshall County Revenue Commissioner, facing an ethics charge, has run into a snag in efforts to reach a plea agreement.

Last month, special agents with the attorney general's office arrested Joey Masters on a misdemeanor charge of violating state ethics laws.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys told the judge in a Tuesday hearing they had reached an agreement, but the judge said he would not be accepting their plea during that status hearing and gave a firm warning.

Masters' misdemeanor charge stems from misappropriation of some $400 from the petty cash drawer at the revenue commission office where he had served as commissioner.

There is an ongoing civil suit which alleges millions of dollars were lost by Masters when he lowered property tax values for friends and political supporters.

Judge Howard Hawk told attorneys up-front he wants to know the big picture. He questioned if this was just a case of someone ‘spitting on the sidewalk' or if there is more to it. The judge also warned he may not accept the plea agreement, and if that happens, they need to be prepared to go to trial.

The parties are due back in court Jan. 13.

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