MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Three Alabama officials have been arrested on felony state ethics charges.
Attorney General Steve Marshall, in a news release, said Sherry Lewis, chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Water Works, Mt. Vernon Mayor Terry Williams, who also owns Global Solutions International Inc., and Jerry Jones, a former vice president at Arcadis, each surrendered Wednesday at the Jefferson County Jail after a grand jury handed up indictments against them Tuesday.
Lewis, 54, is accused of using her office to obtain personal gain for herself or a family member and voting on matters in which she or her family members had financial interest. Williams, 62, and Jones, 54, are accused of aiding and abetting Lewis in committing the alleged crimes by offering her money for the purpose of corruptly influencing official action.
“I want to thank the Birmingham Division of the FBI for partnering with my Special Prosecutions Division to investigate this matter,” Marshall said. “The citizens of this state expect honesty and integrity from public servants at all levels of government. As Attorney General, a top priority is to ensure that any person who violates the public’s trust will be held accountable.”
The charges revolve around the belief by prosecutors that Jones funneled money to subcontractor Williams in order for that company to pay or provide benefits to Lewis or her family.
Al.com reports Lewis’ attorney, Brett Bloomston, issued a statement after she turned herself into the jail.
“Sherry Lewis is innocent of the charges returned against her, at the prosecution’s request, by a Grand Jury that heard only one side of the evidence,” according to the statement.
“Sherry has lived her entire life in Birmingham, Alabama. She has earned an excellent reputation for her honesty, integrity, and hard-work in her professional life, as well as within her community. Sherry has diligently served on the Birmingham Water Works Board, where she has been a voice of reason and a watchdog for the citizens that are served by that Board. Sherry looks forward to her day in court and expects to be acquitted of all charges by a jury of her peers in a trial where she will have the right to confront the prosecution’s evidence.”
Lewis was released on $30,000 bond.
Jones was dismissed by Arcadis - formerly Malcolm Pirnie - earlier this week. The company said it conducted an internal investigation and found he violated company policies. Jones also was released on $30,000 bond.
Arcadis also issued a statement.
“We appreciate the partnership and cooperation with the Alabama State Prosecutor and respect the state’s adherence to laws that protect integrity in the workplace. As a result of their investigation, no charges have been filed against the company,” according to the Arcadis statement.
“The company conducted its own thorough internal investigation, which resulted in Mr. Jerry Jones being separated from the company for violating its policies. Arcadis is committed to integrity and strives to operate its business in an honest and responsible way, working to the highest professional standards.”
Attempts to reach Williams’ lawyer, Josh Briskman, were unsuccessful.
If convicted, all of the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of $30,000 for each of the three counts in the indictments.
Birmingham Water Works Board General Manager Mac Underwood also issued a statement saying the indictment of Lewis “is an unfortunate outcome of a lengthy investigation.”
“I am sorry to learn of the indictment,” Underwood said. “Incidentally, we must be mindful that being accused of unlawful conduct does not automatically make one guilty. However, we must let the legal process run its course.”
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