Lowell Barron, Former Campaign Staffer Arrested On Ethics Charges

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -A former state senator who was once considered to be one of Alabama’s most powerful politicians was arrested on ethics charges Monday.

Former State Senator Lowell Barron (D) turned himself in to authorites at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Monday morning.

Attorney General Luther Strange said Barron and his former staffer Jill Johnson violated state ethics laws and the Fair Campaign Practices Act.  A DeKalb County grand jury indicted the two on April 19.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Barron took a series of campaign checks totaling more than $50,000 and gave them to Johnson for her own personal use. Barron also allegedly gave Johnson a car that was registered property of his campaign.

Barron posted his $10,000 bond and was released.  Johnson is being held in the DeKalb County Detention Center on $10,000 bond.

These are the six counts:

Count 1 charges Lowell Barron and Jill Johnson with violating State Ethics law by converting a $2,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account to Jill Johnson, to personal use;

Count 2 charges Barron and Johnson with violating State Ethics law by converting a $50,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account to Jill Johnson, to personal use;

Count 3 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improper use of excess campaign contributions for a $2,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes;

Count 4 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improper use of excess campaign contributions for a $50,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes;

Count 5 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improperly transferring campaign property, a 2007 Toyota Camry, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes; and

Count 6 charges Barron and Johnson with violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act for improper use of excess campaign contributions for a $6,000 check written on the Barron for Senate campaign account, to Jill Johnson for non-campaign purposes.

The Attorney General’s office did not release more specifics.  Barron and Johnson face up to 20 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines for each of the six counts if convicted.

Barron, a Democratic power player in the Alabama Senate for several terms, lost to current Republican state Senator Shadrack McGill in 2010.

Barron’s attorney issued this statement at the 4 p.m. press conference:

“Despite nearly dying a few months ago, Lowell is now being viciously attacked by Attorney General Luther Strange. The charges that have been brought against our Senator Lowell Baron would be laughable if they were not so serious.  The charges are false, and I can assure you that there is no group in the world that Lowell Barron would rather have deciding this case that the good people of DeKalb County.

At the end of the day everyone will see this witch-hunt is all about politics – nothing more and nothing less.

In closing, let me say that Lowell Barron did not start this fight, but in accordance with his upbringing on Sand Mountain he will finish it and defend his good name and the good name of DeKalb County in the process.

Luther Strange has decided to come after the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Of course, you the taxpayers will pick up the tab for the millions of dollars Luther Strange will spend on his witch-hunt.  But at the end of the day the people of DeKalb will separate right from wrong, they will separate the wheat from the chaff.

The Barron family ask for you continued thoughts, prayers and support.  Lowell is down but he is not out and with the continued support of his family and friends and fellow citizens who he served for decades he is confident about the future.”

Barron added, “I am saddened to stand here before you today the victim of a vicious witch hunt by Luther Strange from Montgomery. If it had taken my life during my injury, it would not have been worse than Luther Strange trying to take my good name.”



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