Hale Co. Probate Judge admits he lied...Now facing ethics - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Hale Co. Probate Judge admits he lied, faces ethics complaint

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Outgoing Hale County Probate Judge Leland Avery now faces an ethics complaint. (abc3340.com) Outgoing Hale County Probate Judge Leland Avery now faces an ethics complaint. (abc3340.com)
GREENSBORO - AL -

    The typical small meeting place for Hale County Commissioners was unusually packed during its regular session Tuesday morning.

    "We want the truth from you Mr. Probate Judge," shouted one resident.  Then another, "This county and no on just this issue today has gone mismanaged."

    It's the first time Commissioners assembled since allegations of corruption emerged surrounding outgoing Probate Judge Leland Avery.

    Earlier this month, Avery signed a requisition self authorizing S. T. Bunn company to pave 'Jack Branch Road' for about $74,000.  Avery lives on the road and only three others.  County leaders have said the road was tarped two years ago and that they never approved of the road to be paved.

    In open meeting Tuesday Avery said the road " was beginning to fail".  Laughs of disgust triggered even more emotions..." No, Mr. Avery -- we know the other people who live on that road and they are embarrassed by what you did and the situation you put them in."

   Last week by phone, Avery told ABC 33/40 his constituents and neighbors asked him the pave road.  He also said two commissioners had given him the go ahead over the telephone to pave the road...but as our cameras rolled -- Avery recanted that statement.   "You told me you were the third vote, that's what you said by phone and I'd like to know what's your response now?" reporter Isaiah Harper asked.  "Well I take that back because there was nothing in writing on the record, " responded Avery.   Reporter Harper asked a follow up question: "Why did you state that from the beginning?" 

   Avery never answered, but the crowd in Commission chambers chanted "He just lied, just liked."

   Commissioners table a portion of the County expenditures they were scheduled to vote on in order to determine whether the county would be responsible for the unapproved road work on Avery's personal street.

   In the meantime, Avery's successor -Author Crawford- who won the Probate Judge seat through a historical write in campaign last month says he has filed an ethics complaint with the Ethics Commission in Montgomery accusing Avery of using his office for personal gain.  The complaint not only centers around the  unauthorized road paving but also the County's Engineer admitted on Tuesday that he was ordered to re-do bridges leading to a camp house owned by Avery.  The engineer reluctantly admitted the bridges were not in desperate need of repair.

   Avery did not comment on the bridges.  But, before the hour long meeting ended...one resident said, "It brings into question everything you've done and we just want you to know we're not just going to stand by and let it happen."

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