Residents react to Prichard employee's arrest and charges - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Residents react to Prichard employee's arrest and charges

MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

Residents are now reacting to the news of Former Prichard Chief of Staff James Blackman's arrest and charges. Blackman was arrested earlier today and charged with 17 counts of theft for embezzlement.

District Attorney Ashley Rich says Blackman stole $106,000 from the city. She says each of the 17 counts is substantiated by a check he wrote.

Tonight residents at Prichard city council meeting were not happy with it. In a city that's been plagued by money problems over the years, it's no surprise that residents are demanding answers from both the city council and city government. When they heard of the accusations against Blackman, it was salt in their wounds.

District Attorney Ashley Rich says Blackman could see more charges before its all over. She says they believe this isn't the only way he's stolen money but they aren't releasing details on that just yet. Rich says this is a class B felony, which means Blackman is facing 2 to 20 years in prison if he's convicted. Because he has no priors, she says he will get the standard preset bond of 7500 dollars for each count. That makes his total bond amount, $127,500.

"Its really sad Prichard needs all of the money that they have and now they're facing this crisis. Its important that the community knows that we have made the arrest today and hopefully this won't be allowed to happen in the future."

Tonight at Prichard's city council meeting, residents were heated about the arrest. They say all city officials should keep a closer eye on the city's finances.
Meanwhile, one city council member agrees.

This afternoon Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner, who did not attend tonight's council meeting, released this statement concerning Blackman's arrest.

"As Mayor of the City of Prichard, it is with great concern that the trust of our citizens was eroded by an employee of my office.  When the alleged act of theft was discovered, it was reported immediately to the appropriate authorities."

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