LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Thirteen felony indictment charges violating theft and ethics laws in the state of Alabama.
That’s what 10-term Sheriff Mike Blakely is facing from the attorney general’s office.
This past Thursday, the AG’s office and the FBI filed the indictment and gave insight to the investigation, however, no federal charges are being brought.
“Anytime a public official uses their office for gain, monetary gain, they can be charged under federal law," retired FBI agent Cecil Moses explained.
Moses was the head of the Northern Alabama FBI unit for several years. He says, it’s likely the federal agency didn’t have enough evidence to indict Blakely on federal charges, so they handed it over to the state.
“I presume there was a joint investigation probably with the FBI and the AG’s office. I believe the AG’s office got involved because the ethics commission referred something over to them. A lot of the charges looked like they were Alabama Ethics Violations, alleged Alabama Ethics violations," the FBI expert continued.
Moses says this isn’t the first time an Alabama Sheriff has come under scrutiny of the law. During his time serving in the federal agency, he says both a Morgan and Marshall County sheriff were indicted on federal charges.
Both sheriffs remained in office until convicted, he says.
“In Alabama your sheriff is a constitutional officer, and so they pretty much only answer to the voters. And the best I recall they stayed in office until they were convicted," Moses said.
Blakely’s legal team told WAFF 48 News Thursday the sheriff has no intentions of stepping down or stepping aside. They also say he’ll plead not guilty.
The 13 charges brought against the 36-year sheriff are all state charges, according to legal documents.
Therefore, the case will be tried in Limestone County.
“The judges might recuse themselves, so they may ask for a change in venue. He might. Sometimes the defendant will ask for a change in venue cause if they feel the publicity has hurt their chances for a fair trial," Moses said.
WAFF 48 News spoke with Robert Tuten, part of Blakely’s legal team, Monday. Tuten says they’re expecting Limestone County judges to recuse themselves.
However, they will remain having the case prosecuted in Blakely’s hometown.