James Blackman, 30, entered a blind plea Thursday to multiple counts of theft and using his position for personal gain.
In all, he was charged with 22 counts of theft in the first degree, nine counts of theft in the second degree, nine counts of theft in the third degree, five counts of theft in the fourth degree and use of official position or office for personal gain, according to a statement from Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich’s office.
The defendant was the former assistant to Prichard Mayor Jimmie Gardner at the time of these offenses. Following a complaint issued in 2018, the investigative unit and white-collar crime unit from Rich’s office began their formal investigation. During the course of this investigation, it was discovered Blackman used his position with the city to unlawfully enrich himself and his immediate family, the statement read.
Using his position with Prichard, Blackman caused the City to purchase two separate properties that had outstanding tax liabilities. One property was sold to a third party and the other property was transferred to his Spouse.
In addition to the previous offenses, Blackman submitted multiple fraudulent invoices, took personal possession of the checks written to these “vendors’, and then deposited those checks into accounts that he controlled.
The loss to the city is in excess of $157,000. Circuit Court Judge James Patterson accepted the Blackman’s plea after ensuring that Blackman was satisfied with council and understood that he was waiving his rights to a jury trial. A sentencing and restitution hearing will be held May 6.
For more on Blackman’s case read: Residents restless amid financial woes in Prichard
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