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Former Lee Co. DA sentenced to jail for violating ethics law while in office

Former Lee Co. DA sentenced to jail for violating ethics law while in office
Former Lee Co. DA sentenced to jail for violating ethics law while in office(Lee County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 4:23 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2021 at 4:49 PM EST
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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WBRC) - The man elected to uphold the law in Lee County will now serve ten months in the Lee County Jail.

Former Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes was sentenced Tuesday for violating the state’s ethics laws and committing perjury while in office. His defense requested he serve a non-custodial sentence in a community corrections program, which was denied. In total, the judge sentenced Hughes to three years, split to serve ten months. A split sentence is hard time and isn’t subject to parole. If Hughes violates the terms of his sentence he will be required to serve 3 years.

Hughes’s convictions stem from giving false information to a Lee County Grand Jury and using $14,000 from his office’s official budget to litigate a settlement in a sex discrimination claim filed against him by a female prosecutor who was a former employee. He’s now obligated to repay those misused funds.

Hughes abruptly entered a plea agreement in this case on the second day of his trial in June 2021. Hughes was on trial for five ethics violations, perjury and conspiracy to commit theft.

Testimony during the trial described Hughes’s office as a frat house where employees drank alcohol on site and played video game consoles, pointing to an abuse of trust and taxpayer dollars. The defense said those actions weren’t illegal and didn’t hurt Hughes’s job performance.

Prior to Hughes’s suspension, he was directly involved in the prosecution of Ibraheem Yazeed, charged with kidnapping and capital murder in connection to the death of Homewood teen Aniah Blanchard. In December of 2019, Hughes announced his office was seeking the death penalty in this case. Blanchard’s mother, Angela Harris, attended Tuesday’s sentencing as a character witness for Hughes.

The case was prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division lead by Clark Morris, which specializes in ethics violations and public corruption. The Alabama Supreme Court appointed retired Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Pamela Baschab to preside over the case. Prior to serving on the appellate court, she was a circuit judge in Colbert County, hence the location for Hughes’s sentencing.

Hughes has turned himself into custody.

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