ATHENS, Ala. – Wednesday marked the 8th day in Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s theft and ethics trial. Witness testimony shed light on different instances when sheriff’s office personnel loaned Blakely money, his gaming activity at conferences and provided insight into how certain funds are used in his office.
First on the stand was Chief Clerk Debbie Davis, who is in charge of finances for the Limestone County Sheriff Office. She was on the stand for most of the day. Her testimony focused on the department’s financial accounts, including the law enforcement fund.
Much of the questioning from the morning focused on the several conferences Sheriff Blakely took with others in the department to Las Vegas in 2014 and 2015 and Gulf Shores in 2016.
On all work conferences, Davis said the department paid for travel expenses, along with registration and lodging.
The prosecution did point out, there were instances when Blakely was wired additional money. In previous testimony, another sheriff’s office employee overseeing inmate funds testified she made wire transfers to Blakely while he was in Las Vegas with cash from a safe that held the inmate’s money.
In previous testimony, that same employee said Blakely paid the inmate money back.
When Davis was questioned Wednesday, she said after the trips, books were balanced and receipts were counted.
Two investigators who traveled with Blakely to Las Vegas both said they loaned the sheriff money during the conference and he paid them back.
When Blakley went to Gulf Shores in 2016, Davis told prosecutors she loaned him $1,000 of her own money from a safe in her home after he called the sheriff’s office. She said he called the sheriff’s office from Biloxi. During their conversation, he told her it’s no fun being there when you’ve lost all your money. Davis says she offered him money and he paid it back when he returned from the trip. She explained to the court that she and Blakley have been friends for decades.
The defense also asked Davis about Blakely’s trip to Biloxi during the 2016 conference. They asked if she was aware that the sheriff was invited to play golf there with three Limestone County Commissioners. She said she was not.
During the afternoon, it was the defense’s turn to question Davis.
They took time to help clarify items such as the sheriff’s office not requiring employees to submit receipts for the $75 per diem during those conferences. As for receipts that are required, Davis told the court the sheriff’s office only holds on to them for two years after an audit. The training conferences go back further than that.
A representative from the parent company of Palace Station, where the conferences were held in Las Vegas, was also called to the witness stand.
Nick Langenfeld provided Blakely’s gambling records for both trips. The prosecution did not ask Langenfeld to go into great detail, but they did have him outline a couple of specific dates.
On December 9th, 2015 the record shows the sheriff lost $989 in about two hours.
When the defense cross-examined Langenfeld they asked how that data was gathered. Langfeld explained it was through the use of Blakely’s player’s card.
Then the defense asked if it was possible someone else could be using his card, including his deceased wife who accompanied him on both trips. Langfeld said that was possible.
The defense also pointed out that the Attorney General’s office is reimbursing Langenfeld’s travel expenses associated with coming to Alabama to testify in the trial.
The trial will resume Thursday morning at 9:00 A.M.