Blakely defense files motion to dismiss 4 theft of property charges

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. — Longtime Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, whose trial for multiple theft and ethics charges began last week, has filed a motion to dismiss four of his 11 charges.

In a motion filed Sunday, Blakely requested the dismissal of counts one through four of his indictment, which include two counts of theft of property in the first degree and two counts of theft of property in the second degree.

The motion comes after attorneys for the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the defense made their opening statements Friday.

The defense argues that the charges don’t reflect what was intended under Alabama law. “The State intends to use the theft of property statutes cited in counts 1-4 of the indictment beyond their intended purpose to apply to cases not intended by the Legislature.”  The defense calls the charges, “defective, insufficient and prejudicial to Mr. Blakely.”

The charges are related to alleged misuse of Blakely campaign funds.

On Friday, Assistant Attorney General Kyle Beckman argued that Blakely not only converted the campaign money to personal use, he also didn’t disclose the campaign donations on required state disclosure forms.

Beckman outlined three instances where the state claims Blakely was given checks intended for his campaign account, but he instead deposited the money in his personal account at another bank.

The prosecution says the checks were for $1,500 from the Alabama Realtors Association in December 2014, $2,500 from Austin Hinds Motors in November 2017 and in a complicated series of transactions they say Blakely ultimately took $4,000 back from a campaign consulting firm in November 2016. The deposit of that check, the prosecution says, prevented Blakely from being overdrawn by nearly $2,500. In each case, they say, Blakely’s bank account was overdrawn or about to be overdrawn without those deposits.

The prosecution also contends Blakely got a check for $3,000 from his campaign with a stated plan to use the money for an elected officials’ seminar in Washington, D.C., but he never made the trip and deposited the money in his own account. Prosecutors say without that deposit, Blakely’s account would have been overdrawn by more than $2,100.

Beckman said Blakely didn’t repay the campaign account until three and a half years later.
In its motion, Blakely’s defense argues the court has identified the owner of the checks in each of these counts as “principal campaign committee a/k/a Friends of Mike Blakely”.

The indictment cites a portion of the Code of Alabama which defines theft of property as, “the intent to deprive the owner of the property”. Blakely’s attorneys argue that the sheriff would be considered the “owner”, effectively raising the question of how he could steal from himself.

The defense also argues the charges go further than Alabama law intended. The motion argues The Fair Campaign Practices Act, “sets out the regulations and record keeping requirements for campaign contributions and donations,” arguing that the Legislature, “did not intend for the theft of property statutes to be extended to cover violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act.”

The motion also points out that the charges against Blakely would have been passed the statute of limitations for the Fair Campaign Act stating, “no prosecution for violation of this chapter shall be commenced later than two years after the date of the violation.”

Read Blakely’s defense full motion here.

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