A former Mobile County Public School System principal has turned herself in after being charged with using her previous position for personal gain under Alabama’s ethics laws.
According to Mobile County Metro Jail records, former Rosa Lott Elementary School principal, Deborah Altman turned herself into authorities Friday morning after discovering she had an active warrant for her arrest the night before.Altman spent around an hour being processed at the jail before posting a $2,500 bond for release.
Though Altman has an initial court appearance scheduled June 30, her attorney, Christine Hernandez, told Lagniappe she still isn’t sure what her client is actually being accused of.
“I have not seen the first bit of evidence under this warrant, and that’s all the information we have right now,” Hernandez said. “We were notified of the warrant yesterday evening, we had a bond set this morning in district court and now Mrs. Altman turned herself in and has since returned home.”
Altman was appointed as the principal of Lott Middle School in Citronelle after leaving the same position at Satsuma High School when the city broke away from the Mobile County system in 2012.
Altman was placed on administrative leave from her position at Lott in April 2015, though the reasons why were never disclosed by system officials. According to Hernandez, Altman did nothing to harm the school system and has since retired from MCPSS.
“She retired in good standing with the Mobile County Public School System, and we have documentation to that effect,” Hernandez said. “And, she retired more than a year ago, and then this hits out of the blue yesterday.”
Though jail records show Altman’s arresting officer as Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, Cochran’s spokesperson Lori Myles said MCSO was not involved with any investigation that preceded Lott’s arrest on Friday.
Other media outlets have attributed MCSO officials in reports claiming Altman’s arrest was related to the improper use of a credit card. However, Lagniappe was unable to confirm those reports. Hernandez later said she had “no idea where the allegations involving a credit card” originated.
Under Alabama law, those who commit credit card fraud are typically charged under a specific statute for “illegal possession or fraudulent use of a credit or debit card.”
Altman’s charges, however, are more akin to those House Speaker Mike Hubbard is currently battling — stemming from the state’s ethics laws and usually preceded by an indictment from a grand jury.
State and federal court records show no active cases or indictments against Altman, which Hernandez says is due to the arrest warrant originating from an assistant in Attorney General Luther Strange’s office in Montgomery.
However, Mobile County’s Cheif Assistant District Attorney, Debra Tillman, told Lagniappe Friday afternoon that the charges against Altman began with a complaint to the Alabama Ethics Commission.
“The was no special grant jury. This was an ethics complaint that was filed, obviously by somebody, and investigated by one of the Ethics Commission’s investigators,” Tillman said. “There is no indictment, it’s just an arrest like any other arrest in Mobile County.”
Tillman confirmed the District Attorney’s office would be prosecuting Altman, though she declined to release any specific information about what the former principal is accused of.