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Grovetown councilman convicted of bribery

Thursday, April 4, 2013 5:25 PM
Last updated Friday, April 5, 2013 2:18 AM
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A jury convicted a Grove­town city councilman of federal bribery charges Thurs­day.

McDowell  JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
McDowell

Leland J. “Sonny” Mc­Dow­ell was convicted on two counts of bribery after a three-day trial in Mont­gomery, Ala., according to Assist­ant U.S. Attorney Clark Morris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Alabama.

“We are just shell-shocked,” McDowell said in a phone interview Thursday. “This is not what anyone expected up until the moment of the verdict.”

Testimony ended Wednes­day afternoon, and the jury deliberated several hours Thursday before reaching the verdict.

McDowell said he plans to return home Monday, when he will resign from the city council. He can’t serve on the council after being convicted of a felony.

“He’ll have to resign, and we’ll have to fill his seat until November when the election comes up,” Mayor George James said.

McDowell was elected to the council in 2009. The council re-elected him in January as mayor pro tempore.

Because there is less than a year left of his term, city officials can appoint a replacement, James said.

McDowell had pleaded not guilty to charges of offering a kickback to a former Alabama Depart­ment of Public Safety employee in 2007. James Potts, of Montgomery, who was also indicted, pleaded guilty Monday and testified against McDowell, Morris said.

Part of Potts’ public safety job in July 2007 was helping the Alabama Department of Human Resources solicit bids for an electronic fingerprint system. At that time, McDowell owned Sou­th­ern De­­ten­tion Tech­nologies, which sold fingerprint machines. He is now the owner of Grayco Detention Equip­ment.

McDowell said he sold the department a machine to be used for fingerprint-based background checks on people who were going to work with children, the elderly and other vulnerable people.

The federal grand jury’s June indictment accused him of offering Potts a $1,700 check and $1 for every fingerprint scan related to the DHR, according to the statement.

McDowell faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge, Morris said. McDowell said he was released on his previous bond and was told to expect a sentencing hearing to be scheduled in about 90 days.

“I’m really disappointed, knowing the background and how everything went down, how anybody in the world could convict him for it,” James said.

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fedex227
11179
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fedex227 04/04/13 - 07:56 pm
1
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“We are just shell-shocked,” McDowell said.
Unpublished

We? You and who else?

715
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Barry Paschal 04/04/13 - 11:02 pm
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His wife

I'm sure he's speaking of him and his wife, who was with him at the trial.

agustinian
689
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agustinian 04/05/13 - 07:55 am
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Irony

Just interested . . . will he be fingerprinted by one of the machines he sold the Department?

rmwhitley
5542
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rmwhitley 04/05/13 - 08:35 am
0
0
Sounds like
Unpublished

politician probation as a sentence to me.

soapy_725
43676
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soapy_725 04/05/13 - 09:37 am
0
0
Sonny,
Unpublished

What's in a name? Sonny one so dear, we love you........
Sonny, thank you for memories......
Sonny, so sincere.......

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