An Alabama sheriff thought it would be a good idea to claim that he had tested positive for the coronavirus so that he could delay his trial on felony theft charges.
The sheriff was indicted and scheduled to stand trial but his attorneys sought a delay, claiming their client was hospitalized with coronavirus.
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After the Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s attorneys made the claim in a filing, the claim was proved false at a rare Saturday hearing. Circuit Judge Pride Tompkins slammed the defense for making false claims that could cause public panic, the News Courier of Athens reported.
“I don’t know what your tactic is, but it’s condemned by the court,” Tompkins said. “And the court won’t tolerate it.”
Instead of the coronavirus, records show that Blakely had been hospitalized with a respiratory problem. He was not even tested for the COVID-19.
Dr. Maria Onoya was called to testify during the hearing and said that Blakely was tested for several things, including influenza and walking pneumonia, but the results came back negative.
Blakely, 69, has been sheriff for 36 years. He was indicted in 2019 on multiple felony counts and one misdemeanor after allegedly stealing campaign donations, using his position as sheriff to obtain interest-free loans and soliciting money from employees, The New York Daily News reported.
Blakely’s defense lawyer, Robert Tuten, said he was mistaken about the sheriff’s health problem and wasn’t “trying to pull a fast one.”
“There are apparently several different kinds of coronaviruses, but all we had to go on was what we knew at that moment,” Tuten said.
While the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has risen to more than 1,000, so far there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama.
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