Mayor’s case continued

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2007

LINDEN &045; Demopolis Mayor Cecil Williamson’s criminal motions appearance was postponed due to a scheduling conflict with her lawyer.

Marengo County District Attorney Greg Griggers said Williamson’s lawyer, William N. Clark of Birmingham, had a scheduling conflict because he had a court appearance the same day in a federal court case. He said the appearance would roll over to the next preliminary hearing schedule.

Williamson’s case was originally scheduled to be on yesterday’s criminal motion’s docket but the continuance will move the hearing to the criminal motions near the end of the summer. Griggers said the judge likely granted the motion because Williamson’s lawyer has yet to postpone any aspect of the trial, so it is unlikely this is a delay tactic.

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In the last court hearing associated with the case, arraignment held on March 6, Williamson’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea through a written waiver, allowing he and Williamson to abstain from attending.

The pleas and court appearances for Williamson stem from two grand jury indictments that charged her 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 in her position 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.

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 moneys 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.