MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A former public employee for the Madison County Commission has been arrested for felony ethics and theft charges.
Attorney General Luther Strange said Deborah Kay Sims, 59, of Gurley, surrendered Wednesday at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
Prosecutors for the Attorney General’s office presented evidence to a Madison County grand jury on March 11, Strange said. The grand jury indicted Sims.
Her charges are as follows:
• One count of intentionally using her official position as a public employee for unlawful personal gain of checks or money valued at more than $2,500
• One count of first-degree theft by unauthorized control of checks or money valued at more than $2,500, which was the property of the Madison County Commission
• One count of first-degree theft by deception of checks or money valued at more than $2,500, which was the property of the Madison County Commission
If convicted, Sims could face two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $30,000 for each of the counts.
Sims worked as secretary for former District Three Commissioner Jerry Craig. She was terminated earlier in 2013 after being confronted about several financial irregularities in a Madison County bank account.
WHNT News 19 first reported on the investigation in December. Sources familiar with the case tell us it involves tens of thousands of misused taxpayer dollars.
Current District Three Commissioner Eddie Sisk said he contacted law enforcement after receiving a mysterious bank statement in the mail in late 2012, just weeks after he succeeded Craig.
“It was shocking when I found it,” said Sisk. “Just as soon as I opened it I knew we had a problem…we went to looking back several years, and it was something that had been going on for a long period of time.”
Sources said the bank account in question involved a county checking account used for the annual Madison County Fishing Rodeo, with evidence reportedly linking Sims to a number of unusually large deposits and subsequent withdrawals that had nothing to do with the event.
Madison County Chairman Dale Strong said an ongoing audit by the State Examiner’s Office will soon bring everything to light.
“We’re watching as the Attorney General proceeds forward,” said Strong. “I believe this audit will provide information that lets the taxpayers know what’s going on. We’ve opened up the books as we have for these audits, and I believe the evidence will be presented in the days ahead.”