November 24, 2020

Alabama prosecutor indicted on ethics, perjury charges

An east Alabama prosecutor was indicted on multiple charges of using his office for personal gain by allegedly using his position to benefit his family and conspiring to steal a pickup truck, the state said Monday.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon M. Hughes was charged with ethics violations, perjury and conspiracy to commit theft, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said in a statement.

Hughes previously has denied intentionally breaking any laws. Richard White, Hughes’ defense attorney, told WSFA that while he couldn’t speak to the specific counts, his client is innocent and looking for to his day in court.

Hughes was charged with illegally hiring his three children to work for his office and paying private lawyers with public funds to settle a matter that helped him and his wife, according to the statement. He was also charged with issuing a subpoena to a company to gather evidence for his own potential defense.

The state said Hughes also allegedly tried to steal a 1985 Ford Ranger pickup truck from a business in neighboring Chambers County by hatching a plan to use a search warrant to to make a business give up the vehicle.

Hughes, who also was accused of lying to a special grand jury, surrendered at the Lee County jail on Sunday afternoon and was released on $31,000 bond, news outlets reported.

He also was charged with one count of perjury in Montgomery County. Prosecutors said he lied to the Alabama Ethics Commission during its investigation.

Hughes, who did not immediately comment publicly on the case, told the Opelika-Auburn News he would release a statement Monday.

Elected in 2016, Hughes previously said he had reported a possible ethics violation to the Alabama Ethics Commission, which decided in April to refer the matter to the state. Hughes denied doing anything wrong intentionally at the time, although it is unclear whether the indictment related to the referral.

“I want to be clear that I have never, not once, knowingly violated any ethical standard in my 18 years as a prosecutor,” he said. “I have always put doing what is right above all else in my career.”