“Immoral but not criminal” – Lead prosecutor in Bentley probe explains decision not to bring charges

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The leader of the special prosecution team says no more charges will be filed against former Governor Robert Bentley because prosecutors hit a roadblock. Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks says they took it as far as they could despite gaps in the state's ethics laws.

It's been almost one year since Bentley resigned and pleaded guilty to two charges. The investigation was related to his relationship with his top aide Rebekah Mason, and whether state funds and resources were misused to facilitate or conceal it.

"The wheels of justice just turn very slowly. We wanted to be very thorough," explains Brooks.

Following the announcement that the state would not seek further charges against the former Governor or his administration, Brooks sat down exclusively with WHNT.

"We believe that we have exhausted all the leads that we've been given," she says.

The year-long investigation costs a lot of time for prosecutors and the grand jury. More than 100,000 documents and another 100 witness statements were reviewed.

"The monetary cost would be frankly very minimal for the amount of work that was done in this case. All as a result of the criminal behavior of a former governor," says Brooks.

Ultimately, a grand jury found serious concerns with current ethics law.

"A lot of things aren't right. They can be immoral but not criminal. It's under the law, you have to follow the facts. If the facts aren't there, you can't prosecute. If the laws not there you can't prosecute."

Brooks says she feels strongly that lawmakers need to know there are holes in the state law that hindered the investigation.

"Unfortunately our hands were tied, and we could not go forward because of laws, or lack of laws. So now we move forward as a state, and we're grateful for this opportunity to serve," she says.

It's unknown if Bentley or others from his administration are under federal investigation. Brooks told us that her team coordinated and exchanged information with federal authorities during the state investigation.