DECATUR, Ala. -- Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) has pleaded guilty Monday to a federal mail fraud charge, admitting he took money from his campaign account for personal use.
The guilty plea in Alabama’s Middle District Court paves the way for sentencing in the coming months.
The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the plea agreement. But the plea agreement also says the government has agreed to recommend a sentence of probation to the court, which is not bound by that recommendation.
Hammon has also agreed to pay court-ordered fines and restitution, though the amount has not yet been set.
Hammon announced in July he would not seek another House term. He was first elected to the House seat in 2002. Hammon was the Majority Leader in the Alabama House, before stepping down from that role in February.
He is perhaps best known as the sponsor of Alabama’s far-reaching immigration law, HB56, which passed in June 2011. The law, which criminalized a wide range of behaviors for illegal immigrants – from seeking a job to housing to getting utility services -- fueled a national debate on immigration enforcement, led to hundreds of families leaving Alabama and led to a series of court battles.
Hammon said in 2011 that the law “attacks every aspect of an illegal alien’s life.”
Most of the provisions of the law were later thrown out by the federal courts.
The mail fraud charge alleges that in 2013 Hammon set up a campaign committee for his 2014 reelection but diverted campaign funds for personal use.
The charging document against Hammon says:
“Between on or about September 25, 2013 and November 20, 2014, Hammon received and accepted monetary contributions to his principal campaign committee from various entities and individuals for the stated purpose of supporting Hammon's 2014 reelection to the Alabama House of Representatives in compliance with the Alabama Code, when, as Hammon then knew, he intended to divert some portion of the money received by his campaign committee to his personal use,” in violation of state law, according to the court filing.
It continues, “Hammon would deposit or cause to be deposited checks payable to his principal campaign committee,” but it says Hammon would sign checks payable to ‘Micky Hammon,’ deposit those checks in his personal account and use the money for “expenses unrelated to his campaign or his legislative office.”
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama issued a news release following the plea.
“Self-dealing by elected officials erodes society’s confidence in its governmental institutions,” said United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. “Self-dealing is precisely what occurred here. Those who donated to Representative Hammon’s campaign expected that the campaign would use those resources lawfully and to foster an informative public debate.
"Instead, Representative Hammon placed those funds into his own personal piggy bank. I am proud of my office’s efforts to root out this corruption and I am most grateful for the tireless work of the United States Postal Inspection Service, which investigated this case. I hope that this prosecution will, in some small way, restore Alabamians’ trust in their state legislature.”