LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Attorneys for Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely filed motions Tuesday seeking to dismiss 13 criminal charges against the 10-term sheriff. Blakely is challenging the constitutionality of the ethics law under which he was indicted.
The motions argue that the Alabama Ethics Act is "unconstitutionally vague."
Blakely was indicted in August on theft and ethics charges, including stealing from his office. He has remained on the job while his criminal case is pending. Blakely has served as the Limestone County Sheriff for 36 years.
Tuesday's court filing by Blakely's lawyers, Robert Tuten and Marcus Helstowksi, argues the charges are too vague to be valid. The filing cites a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision which found, “a conviction fails to comport with due process if the statute under which it is obtained fails to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited ..."
The filing further argues, " ... the Defendant is charged in counts 7, 8, 10, 12 and 13 with using his official position or office for personal gain in violation of §36-25-5(a). No where in the statute does it specify what conduct is prohibited. Nor does it specifically explain the term 'using' or 'personal gain.'"
The 13 charges cover conduct over multiple years, according to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
The first four counts charge Blakely with four separate thefts from his campaign account that total $11,000. Counts five through 10 charge Blakely with illegally taking money from Limestone County funds, including from the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Fund.
Count 11 charges Blakely with soliciting a $1,000 wire transfer from a subordinate other than in the ordinary course of business. Finally, counts 12 and 13 charge Blakely with using his official position or office to acquire interest-free loans.
Specifically, count 12 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans in the form of a $50,000 cashier’s check and/or a $22,189.68 credit. Count 13 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans by taking money from a safe that was used to store the Limestone County jail inmates’ personal funds.
An additional motion to dismiss addresses one misdemeanor count against Blakely. Attorneys argue that the charge violates Alabama statue of limitations.
Blakely is due to be arraigned Nov. 12 in Limestone County Circuit Court.