Bullock County commissioners are breathing a sigh of relief. The group was indicted last summer when audits revealed they violated Alabama competitive bid laws by purchasing thousands of dollars worth of food for prison inmates.
Commissioners claimed it was an honest mistake. Attorney General Luther Strange honored their plea.
With family and friends nearby, the commissioners announced Strange had asked the court to dismiss all felony charges against them.
"You remember the song by James Brown…'I feel good?'" says an elated Commission Chairman Ronald Smith.
Commissioners say the last eight months have been stressful as all five men worked to convince authorities they meant no harm.
They said they just didn't understand the in's and out's of the state bid process and thought they were simply helping out the Bullock County sheriff by buying inmate food.
"We always have tried to do the best we could for Bullock County. We always have thought we were following all the laws. We never dreamed that buying food at Sam's wholesale would be something that maybe wasn't legal."
For some, the process has been a family affair. Commissioner John Adams' mother admits it was difficult watching her son defend his good name.
"It's like a nightmare being over. And we feel peace. Now, we can move on with our lives," says Betty Adams.
"I have become a bid expert," admits Smith.
Commissioners say the process has not only taught them more about the competitive bid process, but also about each other.
"I think through this ordeal it has made us closer. And we are now a true fraternity," says Smith.
A judge has since ordered the Bullock County Sheriff to take care of providing inmate meals.
Following the judge's order and other steps taken by the commission to fix the problem, the Attorney General said in a statement his office had no choice but to ask that the case be dismissed.
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