Monday, October 12, 2009

Alabama's Attorney General Troy King Takes Bold Steps to Protect Elders and Preserve Public Trust

Former Alabama probate judge headed for jail

(MONTGOMERY)—Attorney General Troy King announced that the Alabama Supreme Court today denied certiorari review in the case of former Covington County Probate Judge Sherrie Phillips.

In declining to hear the case, the Court issued a Certificate of Judgment of Phillips’s conviction for felony theft and ethics violations prosecuted by the Attorney General last October.

Phillips’s appellate bond now requires her to surrender to the county sheriff within 15 days. Phillips faces two concurrent sentences of 10 years, which were split for her to serve three years incarceration followed by three years of supervised probation.

Attorney General King said, “It is appropriate that Sherrie Phillips begin to serve her prison sentence.

We are sending a strong message that no one is above the law.

This verdict proves that even judges who break the laws they apply are accountable for their actions.

My commitment to the people of Covington County and to citizens throughout Alabama is that, as their Attorney General, I will prosecute those who break the law and betray the public trust, and that I will take action to preserve the integrity of our government.

Today, we make good on that pledge”

Phillips was found guilty by a jury in Covington County Circuit Court on October 29, 2008.

The Court of Criminal Appeals denied her appeal of that conviction.

The Attorney General’s Office presented evidence that Phillips took a $1.8 million check from the estate of Cary Douglas Piper and put the funds into a personal account for herself, listing her own address and social security number on the account.

Phillips subsequently withdrew $516,917. 50, which was used by herself and family members.

Although $516,000 was returned at a later date, the money was not repaid until the morning after Attorney General’s investigators came to the probate office with a subpoena seeking the file and records of the Piper estate.

Between January 22, 2008, and April 5, 2008, Phillips wrote 10 checks from the account, including checks to pay off loans, a $25,000 check to her husband, a $100,000 check to her brother, a $100,000 check to herself after she had bought a Cadillac for more than $60,000, and a $23,000 check to a Ford dealer for her husband’s truck.

On April 30, 2008, agents of Attorney General King’s office served a subpoena upon the Covington County Probate Office for the file on the Piper estate.

At that time, the file did not record what became of the $1.8 million.

Phillips was at the financial institution the next morning when it opened, and immediately took the following actions: she transferred the money from the personal account into a public funds account; deposited a check from a brother for $449,000, a check from another brother for $25,000, a check from her husband for $12,000, and a check from herself for $32,000 into that account.

Attorney General King’s office presented evidence to a Covington County grand jury on June 10, resulting in a Phillips’s indictment for first-degree theft and felony ethics violation by intentionally misusing her public office for unlawful personal gain.

Attorney General King commended Assistant Attorney General Andy Poole for his handling of this appeal.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Bill Lisenby, chief of his Public Corruption and White Collar Crime Division, Assistant Attorney General Ben Baxley, and investigated by the Attorney General’s Investigations Division.

Thanks for the heads up EstateOfDenial.Com

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