OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - A former deputy attorney general testified Monday that a prosecutor bragged he would ruin indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard politically.
Former Deputy Attorney General Sonny Reagan’s testimony in Lee County Circuit Court was the start of a multiday pretrial hearing as Hubbard looks to have the corruption case against him dropped.
Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his public positions to benefit his businesses. Hubbard has denied any wrongdoing. The Auburn Republican has alleged prejudicial prosecution and has said a 2010 ethics law that he supported is unconstitutional and being incorrectly applied in this case.
Reagan spent nearly four hours testifying about the ways in which he found both prosecutor Matt Hart’s remarks and his handling of grand jury proceedings prejudicial. During the defense’s questioning, Reagan told a judge that Hart was out to ruin Hubbard and made several threats against him during private discussions.
“He said he would put a gun in his mouth with his hand on the trigger, show him the indictment and maybe he would plead guilty and resign,” Reagan said. Solicitor General Andrew Brasher suggested that Hart using gruff or suggestive language about the case with Reagan in private wasn’t necessarily an indication of bias since the two both have military backgrounds.
Reagan resigned in December after he was accused of trying to undermine the investigation. Attorney General Luther Strange said Reagan communicated with people interested in stopping the probe and used as his personal attorneys two lawyers who were representing defendants. Reagan has denied those allegations.
Prosecutors on Monday also presented court documents saying Reagan’s attorney sought to have the grand jury reviewing Hubbard’s case disbanded and advised him to use his Fifth Amendment right during portions of his own grand jury testimony.
One of Hubbard’s defense attorneys, Mark White, said he was pleased with the first day of the hearing but declined to elaborate, citing pending testimony from additional witnesses. State prosecutors also are expected to continue questioning Reagan when the hearing resumes Tuesday.
White said he also expects to call former Ethics Commission Executive Director Jim Sumner, and former Attorney General’s investigator Gene Sisson.
Strange said Sisson helped Reagan secretly tape a conversation with the acting attorney general who was overseeing Hubbard’s case and later lied about losing the recorder. A state board recently upheld Sisson’s firing.
The prosecutor, Hart, is also among 40 witnesses on Hubbard’s list. Judge Jacob Walker has said he will determine later whether the defense can take testimony from current Attorney General’s office employees. If so, he said that will be done via deposition.
Hubbard’s case is scheduled to go to trial March 28. Prosecutors are objecting to defense efforts to delay the trial, which has already been postponed once.
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