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Councilman's bribery trial set for April

Posted: January 16, 2013 - 12:08am
McDowell
McDowell

A Grovetown city councilman is scheduled to go to trial in April to face federal bribery charges in Alabama.

Leland J. “Sonny” McDowell, who pled not guilty to the charges June 15, is accused of offering a kickback to a former Alabama Department of Public Safety employee in 2007.

McDowell and James E. Potts, of Montgomery, Ala., face a four-count indictment alleging bribery related to a program receiving federal funds, according to a statement from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office Middle District of Alabama.

McDowell declined to comment.

Both men are scheduled to be tried in federal court in Montgomery beginning April 1, according to Clark Morris, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Part of Potts’ public safety job in July 2007 was helping the Alabama Department of Human Resources solicit bids for an electronic fingerprint system. At that time, McDowell owned Southern Detention Technologies, which sold fingerprint machines. He is now the owner of Grayco Detention Equipment.

McDowell said he sold the department a machine to be used for fingerprint-based background checks on people who were going to work with children, the elderly and otherwise vulnerable people.

The federal grand jury’s June indictment accused him of offering, and Potts accepting, a $1,700 check and $1 for every fingerprint scan related to the DHR, according to the statement.

If convicted, McDowell and Potts face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

McDowell was elected to Grovetown City Council in 2009, and his term runs through the end of 2013. He will remain on the council, as an indictment is only an accusation. If he is convicted or pleads guilty to charges, he’ll be removed from the council, Mayor George James has said.

The Grovetown city council re-elected McDowell Monday as the city’s mayor pro tempore.

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