Onetime GOP Potentate Gets Four Years In Prison

     (CN) – Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was sentenced Friday to four years in prison and an additional eight years of probation after being convicted of improperly using his office to save his debt-riddled printing business and solicit lobbyists and others for work.
     A jury convicted Hubbard on June 10 on 12 counts of violating the state ethics law after prosecutors argued that the longtime GOP power had betrayed the public’s trust.
     “The motive was simply greed,” said prosecutor Matt Hart at this morning’s sentencing hearing.
     Hart told Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker that Hubbard has shown no remorse whatsoever since his conviction in fact, Hart said, the former speaker, who was automatically removed from office by his conviction, has repeatedly mocked prosecutors.
     Hubbard did not make a statement at his sentencing hearing, but his defense attorney, Bill Baxley, continued to maintain his client had done nothing wrong, and said the defense would soon be filing post-trial motions challenging the conviction.
     “I believe with all my being that Mike Hubbard is absolutely innocent of every charge,” Baxley said.
     Hubbard’s corruption trial saw a parade of the state’s biggest political players take the stand, including current Gov. Robert Bentley and former Gov. Bob Riley. Hubbard himself, who has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, also testified in his own defense.
     In 2010, Hubbard helped orchestrate a Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature. Ironically, the Legislature passed the very ethics reforms in which Hubbard now finds himself entangled. Hubbard did not have a visible reaction as the verdict was read. He left the courtroom with a grim expression but was allowed to go free on bond as he appeals his conviction.
     Judge Walker handed down his sentence after a series of character witnesses — including a local pastor, the president of a local bank, the Opelika city mayor and U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers — pleaded for mercy on Hubbard’s behalf.
     Walker rejected prosecutors’ request for Hubbard to pay $1.6 million in combined fines and restitution.
     Instead he ordered Hubbard to only pay $210,000 in fines.
     In a short statement to the media, Baxley called the proceedings a “witch hunt.”
     “Mike Hubbard and his family have been the victims of a witch hunt,” said Baxley. “He is one of the very few people that I have ever known of that a jury has convicted that I believe in all my heart is innocent. We will appeal this case all the way.”
     Following his convictions in June, Hubbard was replaced as Alabama House Speaker by Republican Victor Gaston of Mobile. Gaston is filling the position temporarily until a special election can be held later this year.
     Photo caption:
     Mike Hubbard enters Judge Jacob Walker’s courtroom in the Lee County Justice Center for sentencing on Friday, July 8, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. (Todd Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP, Pool)

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