Today, James Blackman entered a Blind Plea to 22 counts of Theft 1st, 9 counts of Theft 2nd, 9 counts of Theft 3rd, 5 counts of Theft 4th, and Use of Official Position or Office for Personal Gain. The defendant was the former assistant to Mayor Jimmie Gardner of Prichard at the time of these offenses.
Following a complaint issued in 2018, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Investigative Unit and White-Collar Crime Unit began their formal investigation. During the course of this investigation, it was discovered that the defendant used his position with the City of Prichard to unlawfully enrich himself and his immediate family. Using his position with the City of Prichard, the defendant induced the City to purchase two separate properties that had outstanding tax liabilities. One property was sold to a third party and the other property was transferred to his spouse.
In addition to the previous offenses, the defendant submitted multiple fraudulent invoices, took personal possession of the checks written to these “vendors”, and then deposited those checks into accounts that he controlled. The loss to the City of Prichard is in excess of $157,000.
Judge Patterson accepted the defendant’s BLIND PLEA after ensuring that the defendant was satisfied with counsel and understood that he was waiving his right to a jury trial. A sentencing and restitution hearing will be held on May 6th, 2019.