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During a hearing Wednesday, former Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris pleaded not guilty to federal charges accusing him of fraudulently applying for loans in his official capacity as sheriff from federally insured banks to pay off personal debts.

According to a federal indictment, Norris was accused of taking out nearly $50,000 in bank loans in 2017 and 2018 to pay personal debts, including gambling debts, while claiming the money was for expenses at the sheriff's office. The indictment also accused him of seeking a nearly $70,000 loan in his official capacity in 2020 for a piece of machinery that was intended for personal use.

Norris and a friend, Danny Lee Beard Jr, also were accused of applying for additional loans worth tens of thousands of dollars, and Beard was separately accused of making false statements to obtain a pandemic relief loan of more than $74,000.

Both are scheduled to appear in court in July.

Norris resigned amidst an impeachment probe in May of 2021.

According to the attorney general’s office, Norris resigned a day before he was to appear in a hearing at the Alabama Supreme Court to respond to an impeachment complaint.

The attorney general’s office accused Norris of multiple acts of malfeasance, including filing false financial disclosure forms and taking thousands of dollars from a company whose owner got payments from the sheriff’s office.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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