Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely has been arrested on 13 counts of theft and ethics charges.
Blakely, 68, surrendered to authorities and was later released on $49,000 bond.
The indictment includes 13 charges that cover a range of conduct over multiple years. Specifically, the first four counts charge Blakely with four separate thefts from his campaign account that total $11,000. Counts five through 10 charge Blakley with theft or ethics charges stemming from his illegally taking money from Limestone County funds, including from the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Fund. Count 11 charges Blakely with soliciting a $1,000 wire transfer from a subordinate other than in the ordinary course of business.
Finally, counts 12 and 13 charge Blakely with using his official position or office to acquire interest-free loans. Specifically, count 12 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans in the form of a $50,000 cashier’s check and/or a $22,189.68 credit.
Count 13 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans by taking money from a safe that was used to store the Limestone County inmates’ personal funds.
“Public officials are entrusted to perform their duties honestly and above reproach,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall. “When that bond of trust is broken, our society suffers undue harm. My office—working with our federal and state partners—is committed to ensuring that the violators of the public trust be held accountable under the law. I would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative assistance in this case. Anyone with information regarding corrupt practices by public officials is encouraged to contact the Alabama Attorney General’s Office at email@example.com.”
Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly, who has been out of town at an Association of County Commissions of Alabama, found out about Blakely's arrest shortly after 11 a.m. He couldn't comment on Blakely's status and if he would remain sheriff while under indictment. The News Courier has reached out to County Attorney Mark Maclin regarding this issue.
According to the Alabama Code (36-9-1), "any Sheriff convicted of a felony vacates his office at the time of conviction."
Blakely, who was first elected sheriff in 1982, won re-election to his 10th term in November. He said at that time this would be his final term as sheriff.
An ethics complaint against Blakely was filed last year, and the Alabama Ethics Commission referred the complain to the Alabama Attorney General's Office for investigation. Details about ethics complaints are not made public.
At the time, Blakely said he was not aware of the nature of the complaint, but Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton said Blakely and his attorney were advised of the charges and were given an opportunity to appear before the commission.
In January, Blakely and Chief Deputy Fred Sloss were sued by a female investigator who claimed she was assaulted by Sloss and was then promised a promotion if she consented to his advanced. The suit also claimed Blakely demoted the investigator after she reported the incident.
In February, the Limestone County Commission agreed to pay $49,968.52 over a U.S. Department of Labor wage and hour violation concerning the Sheriff's Office. According to a complaint, Sheriff's Office employees working at the annual Limestone Sheriff's Rodeo without pay, while the other infraction involves deputies coming in after their scheduled shifts — without compensation — to fill out arrest warrants.
The News Courier is following this story and will have more information as it becomes available