Ex-Alabama sheriff sentenced to three years for stealing public money

Published 9:32 pm Friday, August 20, 2021

A judge on Friday handed down a three-year sentence to a former Alabama sheriff removed from office after being convicted of theft and ethics violations.

Former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, 70, was convicted of taking no-interest loans from a jail fund that held prisoners’ money and of stealing $4,000 from his campaign account.

Judge Pam Baschab handed down the prosecution’s recommended sentence after they argued that the maximum penalty was needed to send a message to other elected officials, news outlets reported. Blakely’s defense team expressed disappointment in the outcome and said they are focused on an appeal.

“Mike Blakely received the maximum penalty for violating the law,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall in a news release. “It is vitally important that this sentence sends a clear and strong message that officials who breach the public’s trust should and will face the same penalties as anyone else.”

Blakely’s defense team had asked for probation, arguing the longtime sheriff had already lost his career and reputation. “Obviously we are not happy with that,” defense lawyer Robert Tuten told reporters of the sentence.

Tuten said they are appealing the conviction and Blakely will be released on an appeal bond.

Blakely told the judge he did not intend to commit a crime.

“I never had any intent to violate the law and never believed I did violate the law,” Blakely told the judge, according to al.com.

First elected in 1983, Blakely served 10 terms in office. He was automatically removed from office after being convicted of a felony.

Instead of prison, Blakely will get to serve the sentence in a county jail, something prosecutors recommended. However, Baschab specified that it will be at another jail instead of the Limestone County Jail that Blakely ran for decades.