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WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Documents show Limestone Co. sheriff reports winning at gambling, owns race horse

It's unclear how the sheriff spent the money he is accused of stealing.

Posted: Aug 30, 2019 7:37 PM
Updated: Aug 31, 2019 9:06 PM

The WAAY 31 I-TEAM has uncovered documents showing Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely has disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling winnings in recent years.

Blakely has been indicted on more than a dozen criminal charges. The majority of those are for theft. In the 13-count indictment, Blakely is accused of stealing campaign funds and inmates' personal money.

The WAAY 31 I-TEAM uncovered financial disclosures dating back to 2016. The sheriff has claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars of winnings from gaming establishments and the Tennessee lottery.

In May of 2018, the sheriff amended many of the statements for previous years to record his winnings.

The Alabama Ethics Commission said there is no penalty to amending the Statement of Economic Interests public officials are required to fill out. However, the form is due by April 30 of each year. There is only a fine that won't exceed $1,000 if you forget to fill out a form.

We also learned the sheriff owns a race horse and claims to have made money off the purse it has won in races since 2018.

Blakely co-owns the horse with retired Deputy Johnny McDonald and Limestone County Commissioner Steve Turner. The financial filings disclose the horse has won more than $50,000 since the three men bought it in 2017.

Turner confirmed the horse's winnings. He also said the horse isn't a betting tool, in fact he says any money he's ever won, has been from the purse. However, Turner couldn't comment if McDonald or Blakely have ever bet on the horse.

WAAY 31 asked the commissioner if owning a horse with the sheriff is a conflict of interest since the County Commission holds all financial power over the sheriff's office. Turner said that one vote won't make any decision. It requires a majority of the commission. Turner also said if he felt he had a conflict on interest in any vote he would abstain.

Blakely wouldn't comment about the race horse who's name is Game Overtime. The sheriff's office is filled with pictures of him riding horses, cowboy memorabilia along with a saddle. On the Sheriff's Office Facebook page there is picture, showing the Sheriff holding a flyer of a horse named "Game Overtime."

Turner repeatedly shared owning the horse with the sheriff has zero impact on his job as commissioner.

WAAY 31 asked if they would continue to race the horse since the sheriff's facing criminal charges. Turner said he would assume as long as the horse stays healthy and is able to run, and if he continues to do pretty good in races they would keep him.

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