Judge finds Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, 2 investigators broke the law, misled the court

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. —  A Morgan County judge issued an order Friday that found Sheriff Ana Franklin and two investigators broke the law during an investigation involving former jail warden Leon Bradley and local blogger Glenda Lockhart.

The case that spurred the ruling involved a misdemeanor charge of tampering with government documents against Bradley. Morgan County Sheriff’s Office investigators alleged Bradley had taken law enforcement records from the sheriff’s office, gave them to Lockhart and had law enforcement records at his home.

The case is tied to the fact that the sheriff’s office didn’t like the Morgan County Whistleblower blog, according to testimony during a hearing in the case last Friday and Tuesday morning. The investigation was aimed at finding who was feeding the blog law enforcement information.

Sheriff Ana Franklin declined to comment Friday afternoon. On Sunday, she addressed the case on her Facebook page and said, “This is personally painful and difficult to watch my career and reputation be defamed and torn apart. But, I have faith in our system that the truth will be disclosed.”

She said her attorney may have a statement next week “as this proceeds.”

The three-page order contains a number of troubling findings for the sheriff’s office.

Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson says the sheriff and an investigator misled the court to get a search warrant and that they encouraged the illegal entry to blogger Lockhart’s Morgan County business, by a confidential informant. The ruling also says that the sheriff’s office illegally provided the informant with computer monitoring software that he installed on Lockhart’s home and business computers.

The judge seems to have identified a handful of potential crimes he says the sheriff’s office was involved in. He also said they tried to cover up, “their deception and criminal actions under color of law.”

It’s unclear what happens next. Representatives from the FBI and the Alabama Attorney General’s office attended the hearing that led to today’s findings.

To read the entire court order, click here.