Grovetown councilman Sonny McDowell indicted on bribery charge

Jim Blaylock/staff Grovetown city councilman Sonny McDowell, vice president of Southern Detention Technoilogies Inc., displays the fingerprint scanner and computer that is used with e*Dent Alabama Fingerprint Processing Network in October 2008. McDowell has been indicted on four counts of bribery by a federal grand jury in Alabama involving what the U.S. Attorney's Office says is a scheme to solicit bribes for the state's purchase of the system.

A Grovetown city councilman has been indicted on federal bribery charges.


Leland J. “Sonny” McDowell, who was arraigned June 15, is accused of offering a kickback to a former employee of the Alabama Department of Public Safety in 2007.

McDowell and James E. Potts, of Montgomery, Ala., face a four-count indictment alleging bribery related to a program receiving federal funds, according to a statement from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Alabama.

Part of Potts’ job in July 2007 involved helping the Alabama Department of Human Resources solicit bids for an electronic fingerprint system. McDowell is owner of Southern Detention Technologies Inc., which sells fingerprint machines.

The indictment accuses McDowell of offering and Potts of accepting a $1,700 check and $1 for every fingerprint scan run related to the DHR, according to the statement.

McDowell confirmed the indictment Wednesday but declined to comment further.

If convicted, McDowell and Potts face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

McDowell was elected to the city council in late 2009. His four-year term ends next year.

He is the founder of the now-defunct Grovetown Merchants Association and championed the city’s ongoing effort to revitalize downtown Grovetown through the city’s Urban Redevelopment Plan.

Grovetown Mayor George James said he and other city leaders were shocked by the indictment.

McDowell will remain on city council because the indictment is only an accusation. If McDowell is convicted or pleads guilty to charges, he’ll be removed from the council, James said.