An Alabama judge on Tuesday dismissed criminal charges accusing Morgan County's former jail warden, Leon Bradley, of illegally leaking sensitive information to a blogger critical of Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin.
Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson dismissed the charge of computer tampering, allowing the request of the former jail warden after two days of testimony. Al.com reports Thompson declined to hold contempt hearings against Franklin or her deputies. Prosecutors have yet to comment on the case.
“I’m really thankful for the law enforcement people who stood up like they’re supposed to,” Bradley said after the judge’s ruling. “I’m disgusted by those who did not. It was sickening today to hear some of the actions of law enforcement.”
Bradley testified under oath, not denying that he illigally disseminated infromation to Glenda Lockhart. Lockhart operates the 'Morgan County Whistleblower,' a blog dedicated to 'exposing' information that may upset local citizens.
Although the state's attorney general’s office had already agreed to dismiss the case, Bradley wanted a hearing anyway to share the actions of Sheriff Franklin.
Lockhart's grandson, Daniel Lockhart, testified that Franklin threatened to arrest him and jeopardize his plans to join the Army if he did not provide information to discredit his grandmother. He also claims that Franklin bribed him with $500 to install surveillance software on his grandma’s computer.
“I think everything went well today, and justice will prevail,” Glenda Lockhart said as she left the courthouse. Lockheart has not been charged with a crime and is currently pursuing a civil lawsuit against the sheriff's office.
Sergeant Klye Wilson, an employee of the sheriff’s office, testified that Sergeant Blake Robinson and Lieutenant Robert "Bones" Wilson told him to prepare a search warrant on Bradley's home without him even knowing of the initial investigation. Wilson refused to present the affidavit for the warrant to the judge. Wilson also testified that Franklin unsuccessfully tried to convince a Madison County investigator to issue the search warrant against Bradley. Michael Salomonsky, a Madison County Sheriff’s Captain, corroborated Wilson's testimony Friday.
Franklin denied any knowledge of the software in testimony Friday.
Deputy Zachary Dockery, an 11-year employee of the sheriff’s office, testified that he declined to provide surveillance equipment to use on blogger Lockhart because he was worried it would amount to criminal eavesdropping. He said he also told two sheriff’s office employees not to hack into Bradley’s personal emails without a warrant.
Dockery testified that the sheriff’s office had installed a tracking device on Bradley’s county vehicle.
A news release sent from the Morgan County Sheriff's Office to WAAY 31 reads, "The Sheriff’s Office is disappointed that the criminal charges against Leon Bradley have been dismissed without a full and fair opportunity for the presentation of evidence as to whether Mr. Bradley broke the law of the State of Alabama by disseminating confidential, law enforcement information to non-law enforcement personnel, which information was not subject to public disclosure."
Members of the sheriff's office were not allowed in the hearing.
The sheriff denies any improprieties in the course of the investigation of Leon Bradley.