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PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -
A former city councilman who once served as acting mayor of Phenix City pleaded guilty to forgery in Russell County Court on Tuesday.
The case against Arthur Sumbry Sr. began when he was accused of helping a woman obtain the deed to a dying man's house by notarizing a fake signature.
The rightful heir to the home hired a handwriting expert who disputed the authenticity of the document and criminal charges were later filed.
Since then, the trial has been delayed more than once, most recently with the addition of jury-tampering charges against the defendant. Prosecutors accused Sumbry Sr. of attempting to influence a potential juror through a relative, asking for her help during the upcoming proceedings.
The plot was discovered when that juror came forward, telling authorities she wanted no part in the affair. In return for his guilty plea, the tampering charges were dropped and Sumbry Sr. was ordered to pay restitution and serve probation without jail time.
Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis said it's unlikely that Sumbry Sr. would have gone to jail if found guilty by trial based on his age, health, and the fact that his co-defendant, the woman who actually forged the signature, didn't serve any time.
One of the conditions of his punishment is that he is forbidden from seeking or accepting public office ever again.
Arthur Sumbry Sr. is the father of the current Russell County Coroner. We met Sumbry Sr. at his family's funeral home Wednesday, but he would not make a comment. Attempts to contact the family of victim, Ambrose Adams Sr., were unsuccessful.
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