Jury deliberates second day in sheriff’s corruption trial

Published 2:43 pm Monday, August 2, 2021

A jury began its second day of deliberations Monday in the corruption trial of a longtime Alabama sheriff accused of theft of campaign funds, using his office for person gain and taking money held by the sheriff’s office.

A judge told jurors who deliberated for about three hours Friday in the trial of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakley to return to court Monday morning for additional talks after they failed to reach a quick verdict.

Blakely, 70, took the stand to deny any wrongdoing. Still serving as sheriff while under indictment, he faces automatic removal from office if convicted of a felony.

Initially elected in 1982, Blakely told jurors he sometimes put campaign funds into his personal account because his campaign treasurer lived hours away and encouraged him to deposit the money as reimbursement for campaign expenses.

While testimony showed Blakely sometimes left IOUs and took money from a jail safe used to hold inmates’ money, he said that wasn’t a crime. He also said nothing illegal occurred when county prisoners worked at a business where a part owner gave him a check for $50,000.

Blakely didn’t deny gambling at casinos during trips to the Gulf Coast and Nevada for law enforcement conferences, but he said the outings didn’t cost taxpayers extra and denied accusations that an employee sent him money because he was broke from losses.

Blakely was indicted in 2019 but the case was delayed several times because of reason including the pandemic.