District attorney pleads guilty to perjury, ethics charge
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama district attorney on Thursday pleaded guilty to perjury and an ethics charge following trial testimony in which a witness likened his office to a fraternity house.
Former Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes pleaded guilty to perjury in the first-degree and the use of his public office for personal gain.
The plea agreement came on the second day of testimony in the trial. Hughes’ lawyers told WSFA that the plea agreement is a “fair resolution.”
Hughes had been accused of giving false statements to a grand jury and using $14,000 dollars from the District Attorneys Fund to litigate a settlement involving a sex discrimination claim filed against him by a former prosecutor in his office.
Hughes will be sentenced at a later date. The other charges will be dismissed. Hughes agreed to a three-year sentence which will be split to serve 10 months in jail, according to the attorney general’s office. He also will be required to pay back the $14,000 in legal fees, the state said.
While Hughes previously had been suspended from office, the court’s acceptance of his plea of guilty caused his removal from office.
News outlets reported that Lee County District Attorney Pro-Tem Jessica Ventiere testified Wednesday about an overly relaxed office atmosphere under Hughes.
“It felt a little like Mad Men; I guess if you have seen that show. There was a lot of drinking in the office. It was probably more relaxed than it should be for a professional office. There were electronic gaming systems brought in to play Guitar Hero. It was frat-house-ish at times,” testified Ventiere.
Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Clark Morris told WSFA that the defense team approached the prosecution about a plea.