It could be a homecoming of sorts for former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely. For 38 years, Blakely was in charge of his county jail as sheriff. Now, inmate Blakely has asked a trial court to move him into his former home jail, the Limestone Community Corrections Facility, for his remaining sentence.
A ruling is expected on an October 16 motion by Blakely's attorneys to move Blakely from the nearby Franklin County jail to the jail in Athens, the county seat of Limestone County. Blakely cites health reasons for needing the move, including heart and lung conditions.
Blakely was removed from office on August 3, 2021, when he was convicted by a jury of first-degree theft and an ethics charge, using his office for personal gain. He was sentenced to three years in the Franklin County jail in nearby Russellville.
The prosecution of the long-serving sheriff said he borrowed cash from a jail fund that held the money of jail inmates, and he deposited $4,000 of campaign funds into his personal account.
As a general rule, defendants convicted of felonies serve time in a state prison called "the Big House," and those convicted of misdemeanors serve in county jails. County jails also house defendants awaiting trial and other court proceedings.
Blakely has an all-star list of influentials in North Alabama supporting him as character references:
Alabama GOP chairman John Wahl, State Sens. Tom Butler (R-Madison) and Tim Melson (R-Florence), State Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens), retired Judges George Craig and Jimmy Woodruff, Athens Mayor Ron Marks, Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson, and Alabama Ethics Commission member John Plunk.
Blakely was a popular sheriff known for leadership in community activities, including the Sheriff's Rodeo.
Blakely's attorneys had filed motions for retrial, a post-trial "Rule 32" petition, and an appeal, losing all. The legal avenues to avoid serving time were exhausted.
Blakely is working while serving time, qualifying for a work release program. He works in a mobile home park daily and reports to the jail at night.
This is a developing story.
Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].
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