We’re learning more about the indictment of a local sheriff. Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely was indicted by a grand jury on thirteen charges. The case was initiated by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
According to the AG’s Office, the 13 charges Blakely faces cover a range of conduct over several years. The thirteen counts are all theft and ethics charges.
The Attorney General’s Office claims Blakely stole a total of about $11,000 from his campaign account on four separate occasions.
They say five more counts stem from illegally taking money from Limestone County funds, including the sheriff’s law enforcement fund.
Another count has to do with soliciting a $1,000 wire transfer from a subordinate, other than in the ordinary course of business.
The last two counts charge Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans, by taking money from a safe that stored Limestone County inmates’ personal funds.
This was all news to the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, and many employees are still processing what happened to their boss.
“We, at the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, are like family," Public Information Officer Stephen Young said. "We argue amongst ourselves and we aren’t perfect. We laugh together and we cry together. We’re human, like all of you. This affects us all, but we remain united in our mission to serve the great people of this county with our very best. And we will continue to do so, come hell or high water.”
Blakely was quickly out of jail after posting a $49,000 bond and was back at work the same day.
We’re learning what comes next for the Limestone County sheriff and what his legal team plans to do.
Sheriff Blakely is being represented by Huntsville attorneys Mark McDaniel, Robert Tuten, and Marcus Helstowski.
His legal team says they are looking forward to trying this case in front of a jury of twelve Limestone County citizens.
They will be entering a plea of not guilty and fighting the charges listed in the indictment issued by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
Their next step will be filing motions. They told WAAY 31 one of those motions will be to declare the Alabama Ethics Act unconstitutional.
Attorney Mark McDaniel said he’s known Blakely for 40 years and is honored to represent him.
As for the sheriff’s office, they said they realize an indictment does not mean the sheriff is guilty.
“A grand jury indictment is not a conviction," Young said. "In fact, it’s the process typically used when an agency cannot obtain enough probable cause to get its own warrant. As Sheriff Blakely once told me, and I quote, ‘You can indict a ham sandwich.’”
The sheriff’s legal team told WAAY 31 Blakely has no plans to resign because of this indictment.
Sheriff Blakely became the longest-serving sheriff in Alabama history when he was elected to a 10th term last year. He told us, then, he planned to retire after this term. We will see if he plans to stick to that, or if that changes.
The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office now has a message for the community after the sheriff's indictment.
They want to ensure the public that the sheriff’s arrest will not hinder them from doing their jobs.
They say they will still serve and protect the citizens of Limestone County the same way they’ve always done.
Of course, the sheriff’s office was a little shaken up when their boss was indicted by the AG’s office, but they’re not letting it affect their daily duties.
They told WAAY 31, for 37 years, Sheriff Blakely and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office have provided the most professional service possible and they will stay true to their mission, no matter what.
They want to remind folks this indictment will not change the way they do things.
“We will continue to proudly serve the great people of Limestone County with the same level of professionalism and vigor as always," Young said. "Sheriff Blakely has also asked me to ensure the people of the county that he will continue his “open-door” policy, and that he will remain available for anyone who wants to come talk to him about anything.”