Mayor pleads not guilty

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2007

LINDEN &045; A lawyer issued a not guilty plea on behalf of Demopolis Mayor Cecil Williamson Tuesday at the arraignment hearings, which Williamson did not attend, for the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Alabama.

The pleas stem from two grand jury indictments that charged Williamson with knowingly and intentionally obtaining city funds for personal use and knowingly obtaining city funds for personal use by deception. Both indictments stem from the same incident involving improper receipt of healthcare as the mayor of Demopolis.

Griggers said he sought the indictments against Williamson, which were added to the grand jury docket before Williamson had been formally charged and arrested for the crimes, at the behest of the unanimous decision of the Demopolis City Council. The council has said it only sought the indictments after trying other avenues to remedy the situation had failed.

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Events leading to the indictment began in October when city attorney Rick Manley, acting on the behalf of the council and the mayor, notified the Ethics Commission of the mayor’s receiving health insurance paid for by the city. The council did not approve the benefits package the mayor had been receiving when her salary was set in 2004.

Manley sent a letter of notification on Oct. 6, 2006. The Ethics Commission responded less than a week later on Oct. 12, 2006, stating that since all monies were paid back to the city by the mayor no further action would be taken. The commission indicated they were understaffed to pursue the matter.

Council members said they had an obligation both to state law and to the residents of Demopolis, of who’s funds the council is responsible, to pursue the matter to fruition, thus they sought the indictments.

Griggers said the main reason criminal motion hearings are held is to allow the attorneys a chance to announce the status of their cases to the presiding judge before proceeding to trial.