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Jury finds Colquetts innocent of theft

It took a jury less than 30 minutes to return a verdict of not guilty for a former Covington County commissioner and his wife Wednesday on a seven-year-old theft charge.

Kent and Cynthia Colquett faced a charge of theft by deception, which alleged the couple had collected roughly $130,000 in payments for gasoline for their business, Colquett Oil Company, in 2006 – all the while intending to file bankruptcy to avoiding paying their distributor, Mickey Crew.

A civil trial concerning the matter is ongoing.

During closing statements, Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter told jurors the case boiled down to whether or not the Colquetts had intentions of paying Crew.

“For a week while Mr. Colquett was collecting from his customers, he was explaining to them what was happening,” Jeter said. “He never called Mr. Crew and explained it to him. He was intending to use that $130,000 for something else. He thought he would get away with it.”

The Colquett’s attorney, Corey Bryan, told the jury the case never should have been heard in criminal court.

“This is not a criminal matter,” Bryan said. “It’s a shame it has gotten this far. There is still a civil case going on about this right now, where it should be.”

Bryan told jurors the Colquetts had simply fallen on hard times and were acting on the advice of a bankruptcy lawyer when they abruptly closed their business in June of 2006.

“Financial hard times are tough,” he said. “They were trying to keep their business afloat.”

During closing arguments, Bryan told jurors the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Colquetts had no intention of paying Crew.

“The days of debtors prison are over,” Bryan said. “You go back there find (the Colquetts) not guilty.”

Following the verdict, Bryan said the jurors’ quick decision was a testament to the system.

“The jury just listened to the arguments that were made and reached the right decision,” he said.