Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin will be arraigned on January 10th in a Birmingham federal court, just as she's leaving office.
"This is it," attorney Bill Gray told WAAY 31. "This is all of it."
Gray says any federal legal jeopardy for his client, Sheriff Franklin, is over after she entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Franklin has agreed to plead guilty to failing to file her 2015 federal income tax return. And Gray told WAAY 31 federal prosecutors have agreed to charge the Sheriff with only a misdemeanor. "She always admitted she didn't file a return for 2015 at the time it was due," he said. "She has now. But, the 2015 tax return basically was not filed until December of 2017."
"I don't think she did anyting wrong," Gray said. Franklin faces a maximum prison sentence of one year and up to a $100,000 fine.
"We are very grateful that after this exhaustive and exhausting investigation that lasted three-and-a-half years, that it's come down to only an issue of taxes," Gray told us. He said several federal grand juries considered a long list of allegations against Franklin. Despite all that, Gray is thankful the Sheriff survived it all with only the tax issue presenting a legal problem.
Gray told WAAY 31, he hired tax attorneys to examine Franklin's tax issues. Part of the confusion, Gray said, stemmed from the money Franklin had in an account for jail food profit. The sheriff loaned $150-thousand of the jail food money to the now bankrupt Priceville Partners, LLC. The company operated Performance Auto and Title Mart. Franklin eventually paid back the money.
After the tax attorneys Gray hired on Franklin's behalf completed their work, they presented their findings and made arguments to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the IRS. The U.S. Attorney, according to Gray, considered the evidence and moved forward with only the misdemeanor charge.
"It doesn't preclude a state charge should there be a state charge," Gray said.
WAAY 31 reached out to Franklin. But, she has not responded.