An Alabama sheriff says he is innocent of ethics violations and theft.
News outlets report Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely pleaded not guilty during a hearing Tuesday.
Blakely is free on bond and remains in office after being arrested in August on charges that include accusations of taking thousands of dollars from campaign and law enforcement accounts.
The plea came days after Circuit Judge Pride Tompkins refused to dismiss an indictment against the longtime sheriff. The Decatur Daily reports that the defense argued in court papers that the state’s ethics law is unconstitutionally vague, but the judge disagreed.
The 69-year-old Blakely has been sheriff of the north Alabama county since 1983. Any felony conviction would automatically strip him of office.
Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.