Continuance request may extend Williamsons day in court

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2007

LINDEN &8212; Circuit District Attorney Greg Griggers said the next step in the trial of Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson is a criminal motions hearing set for Sept. 17, though her attorney has filed a motion to continue the case.

Griggers said the criminal motions hearing for the case was postponed from its originally scheduled date on April 5 to the current Sept. 17 date, and a new continuance will again move the date later in the year. Both requests for a continuance by Williamson&8217;s representation, Bill Clark of Birmingham, have come due to conflicts with other previously scheduled court dates for the attorney. Clarke did not return calls about the continuance at time of press.

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. If the judge denies the continuance, Griggers said the next term of court for the circuit begins Oct. 29.

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Williamson was indicted by two grand juries on Feb. 7, who 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.

Williamson turned herself in to the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Department on Feb. 9 and was released on a $2,000 bond. Williamson&8217;s attorney entered a not guilty plea through a written waiver, allowing her to abstain from attending her arraignment on March 6.

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&8217;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 to seek the indictments.

The indictments are both classified as theft of property in the fist degree, which is class B felony and each charge carries a sentence of two to 20 years imprisonment.