Blogger Comments: Hey! Big Luther remember us here in Decatur, Alabama. We have a corrupt politician too. The Sheriff of Morgan County, Alabama. We have sent you proof for years. Why no indictment?
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on January 13, 2017 at 2:23 PM, updated January 14, 2017 at 7:26 AM
on January 13, 2017 at 2:23 PM, updated January 14, 2017 at 7:26 AM
Charles Todd Henderson, who is supposed to take office next week as the new Jefferson County District Attorney, was indicted on a charge of perjury Friday afternoon.
The indictment, however, means he will face almost immediate suspension after taking office, Henderson's attorney said.
According to a statement from Alabama Attorney General Strange his office's Special Prosecutions Division presented evidence to a special grand jury resulting in Henderson's indictment. This action was taken following an investigation by the Attorney General's Office on information received from the Alabama State Bar in December of 2016, the Attorney General stated.
Henderson is charged with one count of perjury, which is a class C felony. Specifically, the indictment charges that Henderson did swear falsely and gave a false statement material to a proceeding before Judge Patricia Stephens in the case of Charbel Akl v. Yareima Carmen Valecillos Akl on Sept. 26, 2016.
No further information about the investigation or about Henderson's alleged crime other than that stated in the indictment may be released at this time, according to the Attorney General statement. A copy of the indictment had not been released as of Friday evening.
According to court records, Henderson was appointed on Jan. 26 by Judge Stephens as Guardian Ad Litem to represent the interests of the couple's child. He had been recommended by the attorney for the mother Yareima Akl, according to one court document.
But on March 9 an attorney for the father, Virginia Meigs, filed a motion seeking to remove Henderson as guardian because of his relationship with the mother and an alleged bias against the plaintiff/father. "The mother/defendant has been actively participating in the political campaign of the Guardian Ad Litem ... for some time," according to the document.
Judge Stephens on May 20 removed Henderson as Guardian Ad Litem, a move that Henderson fought.
Then at the Sept. 26 trial at which Henderson allegedly perjured himself, the issue of whether there was a romantic relationship between Henderson and the mother, Ms. Akl, surfaced.
On Sept. 28, the day after the trial ended, the mother's attorney, Daniel Chambers, asked to withdraw from the case. Chamber's motion included information about evidence that the "defendant (mother) and the former Guardian Ad Litem (Henderson) have been in a romantic relationship."
In an Oct. 4 temporary order awarding guardianship to the father, Judge Stephens said that Henderson was not to have any further involvement with the child. The divorce case is still pending.
If convicted of first-degree perjury, Henderson faces a maximum penalty of one year and one day to 10 years, and a fine of $15,000, according to the Attorney General statement.
Henderson's attorney, James Parkman, called the charge false.
Under Alabama law, an indictment prevents someone from carrying out the duties of the District Attorney regardless of the facts giving rise to the indictment, Parkman stated.
Henderson, 52, was already sworn in and he is to officially take office at 12:01 a.m., but will face being suspended almost immediately, his attorneys said.
Presiding Jefferson County Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker will be responsible for the suspension order and the appointment of someone to temporarily fulfill the duties of the district attorney while the perjury charge against Henderson is pending.
Henderson has already named Deputy Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr as chief deputy - or second in command - of the office.
Boohaker was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.
Under Alabama law if Henderson is convicted of the charge he would be automatically removed from office and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley would name a replacement.
Henderson, of Pleasant Grove, was booked into the Jefferson County Jail at 1:49 p.m. Friday. He was released 12 minutes later on $2,500 bond.
Henderson, a Democrat, was elected in November, defeating incumbent District Attorney Brandon Falls, a Republican.
The indictment on first degree perjury was issued by a special grand jury called by Assistant Alabama Attorney General Matt Hart, who was the same man who led the prosecution of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
"The timing of this indictment is strange," Parkman stated. "At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, seconds after Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes to an end, Mr. Henderson is set to begin work as Jefferson County's new District Attorney. However, mere days before that should happen, the Attorney General's Office convened a grand jury that returned an indictment thereby preventing Mr. Henderson from setting foot in office."
"The Attorney General's Office in Montgomery seized the democratic process with this indictment," according to Parkman's statement. "They decided votes don't matter. they decided to take democracy out of Jefferson County. It's a perversion of the process that cannot and will not stand. The power of a few should not quell the will of the majority."
Parkman stated that the charge is false and Henderson can't wait to get into court to fight the charge. "We call on Luther Strange and his office to do the right thing and bring this case to trial as quickly as possible so that the truth can be heard. Dragging out this process - denying Mr. Henderson the right to take office because of a pending indictment - is nothing short of oppression because it denies the clear will of the people." he stated.
Henderson is a 30-year resident of Jefferson County and an Eagle Scout who served in law enforcement both at the state and federal level for more than a decade, according to Parkman. Henderson was assigned as part of his duties at the Fairfield Police Department to a federal drug task force. He has been a lawyer for the past 15 years.
Henderson also has been a school bus driver and educator.
Henderson in 1998 was fired from the Fairfield Police Department by then Fairfield Mayor Larry Langford related to an incident involving Henderson's ex-wife and her new husband. The Personnel Board of Jefferson County upheld his firing in a 2-1 vote.
According to the personnel board's finding after a hearing officer heard Henderson's appeal: "The board finds it significant, as did the hearing officer, that respondent's (Henderson's) actions on May 21, 1998 were: premeditated in that respondent drove to the place of his former wife's employment after talking to someone on the phone; clearly not in self-defense; performed while attired in police clothing; and, actions that respondent did not regret and would take again. We find this to be rather substantial evidence of respondent's guilt of "conduct unbecoming", and we simply believe respondent's conduct regarding this incident does merit termination."
Details of the May 21, 1998 incident in Tuscaloosa are included in a federal lawsuit Henderson filed after his firing was upheld by a circuit judge.
Dressed in a drug enforcement agency shirt, Henderson traveled to Tuscaloosa in a Fairfield Police car, according to the document. He also carried a gun with him that day. He did not have official city business in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa County, however, was within the drug enforcement unit's jurisdiction. As he was leaving Tuscaloosa he called his ex-wife to discuss his children.
When his ex-wife's new husband answered the phone, Henderson would not identify himself and his wife's new husband hung up. Henderson called back and still refused to identify himself and then went to the business where his ex-wife worked, according to the court document.
Once at the business Henderson angrily asked his ex-wife why her new husband had hung up the phone and would not let him talk to her and said he "deserved more respect than that." At one point the ex-wife told Henderson "I told you it was over."
Henderson's ex-wife's new husband, who was also working at the business, then stepped forward and Henderson pushed him, causing him to fall backwards onto the tile floor. Another employee grabbed Henderson from behind to hold him back.
Henderson then left to drive back to Birmingham and Vision Land, according to the court document.
Tuscaloosa police took a report and an arrest warrant was issued. That charge was later dismissed.
Henderson had declined comment to AL.com after the election regarding that incident.
Henderson said there was a sealed settlement of his federal lawsuit and that he couldn't discuss it.