Alabama lawmaker pleads not guilty to theft charge

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(Montgomery County Jail)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama lawmaker on Monday pleaded not guilty to theft charges related to his former employer.

Court records show Rep. Will Dismukes entered the innocent plea during a hearing in Montgomery.

Dismukes is accused of taking property valued at more than $2,500 from his former employer, Weiss Flooring.

Dismukes has said he expects to be exonerated. Dismukes’ attorney Trey Norman has said the dispute is more suited for civil court.

The criminal case began when the company contacted the district attorney. Dismukes started his own company after leaving Weiss.

Montgomery Judge Brooke Reid on Monday also denied a defense request to move the case out of Montgomery County.

The defense argued it would be difficult for the Prattville Republican to receive a fair trial because the area was “infested with prejudice” toward Dismukes. The Republican lawmaker last year drew national attention after participating in a celebration marking the birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general. Forrest was also an early Ku Klux Klan leader.

Dismukes’ attorney included in the court filing a police report detailing a threat of violence made via social media and copies of multiple messages calling the lawmaker racist.

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