Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin sued for using office to target local blogger and former jail warden

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In an explosive lawsuit, Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin is facing accusations that she and her deputies systematically used the sheriffs office to target personal and political opponents. This is just the latest in a series of lawsuits and charges involving Franklin and her office over the last 2-3 years.

The lawsuit was filed by Leon Bradley, who served as the Morgan County jail warden from 2003 until he was fired in October 2016.

Bradley’s sour relationship with the sheriff’s office and numerous deputies from it reads like a movie script. After he was fired Bradley faced several criminal charges of document tampering which according to an April 2018 WHNT news report, were dismissed after several days of motions.

With a scathing report by Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson said, “the sheriff and an investigator misled the court to get a search warrant and that they encouraged the illegal entry to blogger Lockhart’s Morgan County business, by a confidential informant.”

During the hearing that lead to the charges against Bradley being dropped, WHNT reported:

Testimony Friday contained a number of major surprises:

  • The confidential informant used in the case is the grandson of the Morgan County blogger Glenda Lockhart, who Sheriff Ana Franklin has long feuded with. The young man was paid $500 to enter the business and gather materials that were the basis for the search warrant;
  • Two Morgan County investigators said they drove around the FBI office parking lot Huntsville, looking for cars they recognized in order to find out what Morgan County Sheriff’s Office employees had been talking to the FBI. One of the investigators said they heard 30 to 40 sheriff’s office employees had spoken to the FBI;
  • An Etowah County Sheriff’s investigator testified they came in to assist on the Bradley case, but based on what they’ve learned, they felt Morgan County investigators lied to them, used them and they wouldn’t have taken the case given what they know now

Glenda Lockhart is a blogger for the Morgan County Whistle Blowers website who said this in a Saturday post that included the new lawsuit in its entirety, “In their official and individual capacity; and THE MORGAN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE. WOW!  It feels as if Warden Bradley’s Attorneys summed up in 56 pages exactly the who, what, when, where, and why of what Ana Franklin, Bones Wilson, Blake Robinson, Justin Powell, and others did to us to cover their sorry butts.” covered the filing by Bradley in a lengthy expose, reporting:

Bradley’s allegations against the sheriff and deputies include:

  • Violating his First Amendment Rights to free speech
  • Violating his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search, seizure and false arrest
  • Violating his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments rights
  • Conspiracy to deprive his constitutional rights
  • Conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity
  • Violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Conspiracy to violate civil rights

The Sheriff’s office told AL.Com they had yet to review the lawsuit. Ana Franklin, who is Alabama’s only female sheriff announced earlier this year she would not be running for reelection. AL.Com reported at the time, “Franklin’s seven years in office haven’t come without controversy. Most notably, Franklin was found in contempt of court last year because she loaned $150,000 of the jail’s inmate feeding funds to a crooked used car lot. She’s the subject of a federal investigation, as reported recently in the New York Times. The sheriff and her office have been blasted by the local Morgan County Whistleblower blog.”