Former Mosses mayor speaks out after guilty plea to felony ethics violation

Former Mosses mayor speaks out after guilty plea to felony ethics violation

MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - A former Lowndes County mayor has admitted his guilt to a felony ethics violation of using his office for personal gain. Walter Hill, the former mayor of the town of Mosses, entered his plea on Jan. 6, according to Attorney General Luther Strange's office.

Hill admitted to using his office to personally benefit for a total of $25,370. He resigned the day before pleading guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Had he not resigned, Hill would have been automatically removed from office upon a conviction.

Speaking from his attorney's office in Montgomery, Hill did not beat around the bush. He admitted to pocketing the money over a 3-year period dating back to 2012.

"I made mistakes," Hill explained. "No one's perfect."

Strange's office said Hill used town funds to help him make child support payments through fraudulent records, handed out unauthorized payroll checks to town employees, and deposited that money into his personal account in Montgomery County.

"Some things you feel are right morally are not always right ethically," Hill explained.

"Mr. Hill has committed flagrant abuses of the public trust and taxpayers' money for too long," Strange said in announcing the guilty plea. "It is extremely important that this case has resulted in him no longer being in office."

Hill also gave himself reimbursement payments for property lost in a fire at his home that was not covered by insurance, according to Strange, and paid himself six monthly stipend payments without authorization or approval.

He admitted 'greed' got the best of him. "I certainly acknowledge that with deep sincere remorse," the former mayor said.

He faces a possible sentence of between 2 and 20 years in prison, though probation is also an option according to McPhillips. The AG's office has not confirmed that option, however.

"That's his absolute goal," stated Hill's attorney, Julian McPhillips, referring to probation. McPhillips is pushing for the lighter punishment because his client has agreed to pay back every dime through his photography business.

"We understand the attorney general's office is not opposed to probation," the lawyer said. "We hope the judge will give it to him so he will have the freedom and time to pay it all back."

Walter Hill spent 17 years as mayor of Mosses and 8 of those years as the EMA director of  Lowndes County. He was previously convicted in 2014 on a charge of misdemeanor ethics charges but retained his office.

Hill will learn his fate in a sentencing hearing on Feb. 15.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.