By Michelle Key
After two days of jury selection and a day and half of testimony, former District Attorney, Brandon Hughes, accepted a plea deal and changed his non-guilty plea to a guilty plea on two of the seven counts brought against him in Lee County. He pleaded guilty to count 4 – use of his office for personal gain; and to count 7 – perjury in the first degree. Hughes’ legal team approached the prosecution during the lunch break stating that he was willing to discuss a plea and asked them to make an offer. The remaining five charges were dropped as part of the agreement. The eighth charge against him originated out of Montgomery, and that charge is also expected to be dropped in the near future as part of this agreement.
Standing before the presiding Judge, Pamela Baschab, Hughes was placed under oath and questioned.
“Do you understand the nature of the charge against you in each of those accounts?” Baschab asked. Hughes replied “Yes, Your Honor.”
Baschab asked a series of questions confirming that Hughes understood that by entering a guilty plea that he would be waiving some of his rights and that he understood what those rights were.
“It is my understanding that you are asking at this time to withdraw your plea of not guilty to counts four and seven of the indictment,” Baschab said. Hughes affirmed that information.
Hughes accepted the summary of the allegations of the two counts in the indictment and formally admitted his guilt pertaining to those two charges. He plans to apply for a community corrections program. The prosecution indicated that they would oppose that application during the sentencing phase.
Defense attorney, Richard White, spoke on camera after leaving the courtroom. “I think today we reached a fair agreement with the state of Alabama, and I appreciate the attorney general’s office listening to us and being fair with it,” White said. “I know it is not the resolution that we wanted when we started Monday, but I think it is a fair one.”
White then expressed his gratitude to judge Baschab and the jury.
“I thank Judge Baschab and the jury, the spent a lot of their time and I know they listened well so I would like to thank them.
“This is a decision that I don’t think the Hughes family took lightly, I assume they didn’t … It was a gamble that they decided, and I agreed with to go ahead and resolve it.”
Hughes had no comments to add at this time.
No date has been set for the sentencing hearing. The plea deal stipulates a three-year sentence split to require Hughes spend 10 months in jail. He will also have to pay restitution in the amount of $15,450. Hughes’ conviction on the two charges also ends his term as the district attorney for Lee County.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, Clark Morris, also spoke after leaving the court.
Clark explained the significance of the two charges Hughes pleaded guilty to, saying, “We felt the perjury charge was really important because there were numerous lies that occurred in front of the grand jury and we felt that he needed to take, accept responsibility for those lies. And the $14,000 he paid out of public fund was really, really such a large amount of money that, number one, we needed restitution to the DA’s office and two, the amount of money kind of drove our decision.”