Man pleads to thefts

Published 1:22 am Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Andalusia man and former employee of the Andalusia Utilities Board pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in a theft case that authorities say dates back to 2008.



Mickey Sharpe Jr., 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of property III and two counts of misapplication of property in front of District Judge Trippy McGuire.

According to information released by the Covington County District Attorney’s Office, Sharpe was sentenced to one year in prison for each of the four counts, with the sentences ordered to run consecutively. Sharpe was placed on probation for two years.

Investigator Brett Holmes said Sharpe’s sentence means he will not serve time in prison, provided he meets the terms of his probation; however, any violation would mean Shapre would serve four years consecutively in prison, rather than concurrently.

The case first came to light in June 2013 when allegations of misconduct were reported to Mayor Earl Johnson and then-Police Chief Wilbur Williams by a former employee of the utilities department. A four-week investigation into the charges followed.

On June 25, officers with the Andalusia Police Department executed a search warrant, authorized by McGuire, at the Red Level home of one of the employees being investigated.

At a July 9 press conference, Johnson announced the investigation revealed $28,000 had been improperly spent. Johnson also announced the termination of the water and sewer department head and assistant department head, as well as the suspension of a supervisor. Johnson declined to reveal the names of the individuals involved, citing state laws that prohibited the release of that information.

The investigation was eventually turned over to the district attorney’s office, which subsequently brought in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation for assistance with the case. The case is expected to be presented to a Covington County grand jury.

Following Sharpe’s sentencing, District Attorney Walt Merrell said the case has not come to a close.

“This investigation is being handled in stages,” Merrell said. “Mickey Sharpe was part of the first stage of the investigation and was determined by investigators to be the least culpable of the suspects in the Utility Board thefts. With his full and continuing cooperation, we were able to quickly and easily resolve Sharpe’s cases. The second stage of the investigation is now also complete, and the coming weeks will (bring) more news about the findings of that stage. We are currently conducting the third stage of the investigation.”