Judge to decide Morgan County Sheriff’s fate after guilty plea to federal charge

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The U.S Attorneys’ office confirmed that Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to one count of misdemeanor willful failure to file a tax return. A federal judge will sentence Franklin during a hearing scheduled for May 13, 2019.

Franklin agreed on December 18, 2018, to plead guilty to a federal charge of failing to file an income tax return. Under Alabama law, the sheriff won’t lose her job.

But it won’t be long before a new sheriff takes over. Franklin didn’t run for a third term and is leaving office in January. Sheriff-elect Ron Puckett is set to be sworn-in in mid-January.

She faces up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Prosecutors said in a court filing they weren’t recommending a sentence in the case, but instead deferring to the judge’s decision.

The charge stems from money Franklin earned in 2015 but failed to report on her taxes by April 2016. Court documents report Franklin received a gross income of more than $10,300 in 2015.

Because of the amount, Franklin was required by law to make an income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. The court said Franklin was aware of what she needed to do but did not before April 15, 2016.

By pleading guilty, court records show Franklin also waived her right to appeal the conviction and sentencing in this case.

“Public officials not only have a duty to uphold the law, but also to follow it, including promptly and accurately filing their tax returns,” Jay Town, US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said.  “Those who fail to do so, will be prosecuted.  We appreciate the investigative work of IRS-CID and FBI Birmingham.”

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