MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - As Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin prepares to hang up her hat in January, the controversy around what she did while in office continues. There's been movement in two federal lawsuits against Franklin. The two-term sheriff has faced a number of allegations of misconduct while serving as Morgan County's top cop.
A settlement has been reached in the bankruptcy case involving a failed car dealership Franklin was a part of. The sheriff has been ordered to pay a total of $34,000 in the case.
Bill Gray, a Birmingham-based attorney representing Franklin in the bankruptcy case, released a statement regarding the settlement.
"Sheriff Franklin is extremely pleased with the tentative resolution she has reached with bankruptcy trustee Stuart Maples. The settlement encompasses two parts. First, Sheriff Franklin will pay $34,000, which she agrees she owes to Maples as the bankruptcy trustee. Franklin personally owed $34,000, and no more than that, for equipment she purchased, personally, at the time Priceville Partners closed its doors. Thus, she is paying her debt in full.
"Second, the agreement allows Sheriff Franklin’s claim for $150,000, to be paid if Maples wins his adversarial proceedings against the owners of Priceville Partners. Franklin made an economic decision based on the expected recovery and the cost of litigation to obtain that recovery. Franklin is optimistic that Maples will succeed on his claims against the former owners, in which case she hopes to recover some or all of the $150,000."
Another judge also allowed a different federal case against Franklin to move forward. Her attorney's filed a motion to dismiss the case brought by Morgan County blogger, Glenda Lockhart. The lawsuit alleges the sheriff and two deputies illegally searched and damaged her business in retaliation for Lockhart's political blog.
This week the motion to dismiss the case was denied on the basis that Franklin is not entitled to absolute immunity from the blogger's claim for damages.
In the order, the federal judge wrote: "Sheriff Franklin has cited no authority for the proposition that a sheriff acts within the line and scope of her employment when she engages in bribery, intimidation, and other misconduct to silence a private citizen who has been publicly critical of the sheriff. The Court is aware of no such authority."
Lockhart tells WHNT News 19 she is pleased to see her case against the sheriff move forward.
We reached out to the attorney representing Sheriff Franklin in Lockhart's lawsuit. We have not received a response at this time.