Ex-sheriff admits to lying about bank loan

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A former Alabama sheriff who resigned during a state impeachment probe has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of lying to a bank about a loan that was used in part to pay off personal loans, court documents show.

Former Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris pleaded guilty Monday to one count of making a false statement to Town County National Bank in Camden about a $75,000 commercial loan he sought with a friend and business associate, Danny Lee Beard Jr.

The loan was supposed to be for purchasing heavy equipment, but Norris used $25,000 in proceeds from the loan to pay off personal loans to the same bank.

The bank president knew what Norris planned to do but has since died and couldn’t testify, said Gordon Armstrong, an attorney for Norris.

“He’d done business with this bank for a long time, knew the banker, knew the president of the bank and got a little careless with some of the paperwork. But it’s all been paid back. So it’s really a victimless crime at this point,” Armstrong told WALA-TV.

Beard also was charged and is set for trial next month.

First elected in 2010, Norris could receive a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, but prosecutors agreed to recommend leniency.

Norris resigned last year before an impeachment proceeding was set to begin over multiple alleged acts of malfeasance. In exchange, the state dropped the case.