Judge spends $50,000 of public money on furniture, wine, beach and ski trips, and eyeglasses: State Attorney

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Gilbert P. Self was charged with misusing public funds, according to a report by Huntsville, Alabama’s ABC affiliate WAAY-TV.

According to authorities, a judge from Alabama is facing allegations of misusing $50,000 in public funds. The funds were reportedly used for personal expenses such as beach and ski trip vacations, furniture, alcohol, and eyeglasses.

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Gilbert P. Self, 61, has been charged with 16 counts of using his office for personal gain or for the gain of his family members. Additionally, he is facing one count of making a false representation to examiners of public accounts and one count of perjury. State Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that Self turned himself in to the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office.

During his tenure as the presiding judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit from April 2020 to February 2023, Self stands accused of using public funds to reimburse himself for personal vacations. These vacations included a ski trip to Montana, a cycling trip across three states, and a visit to St. Ignace, Michigan. In addition, authorities allege that he claimed expenses for events in Reno, Nevada; Duck Key, Florida; Mackinac Island, Michigan; and Alabama, despite not actually attending them.

In addition, the news release stated that Self has been accused in the indictment of engaging in double-dipping for both per diem and mileage, as well as providing false information to the Examiners of Public Accounts during an audit.

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In addition to the charges of embezzlement and corruption, he is also facing an accusation of providing false information in front of a county grand jury just recently. This indictment comes as a result of an extensive investigation that originated from an audit, according to officials.

During the state audit, it was revealed that Self had misused a total of $84,838 for personal expenses. These expenses included various items such as electronics, eyeglasses, handguns, ammunition, kitty litter, car wash supplies, flowers, framing, golf items, and furniture that were not even located on courthouse property. Additionally, Self was found to have hired his son as a law clerk and paid bonuses to a former judicial assistant and other contract employees without proper timesheets. However, it is worth noting that a majority of the misappropriated funds have been repaid.

The audit found that the Presiding Circuit Judge did not provide sufficient documentation or justification for all expenditures. Consequently, the Presiding Circuit Judge was required to repay a total of $112,776.56, which included unallowable or undocumented expenditures.

According to Self, the audit focused on activities carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported by the Alabama Daily News.

According to the outlet, Self acknowledged that the bookkeeping during COVID was severely lacking. He admitted that it was sloppy and did not adhere to acceptable accounting principles. He emphasized that the reason behind this was the absence of individuals with proper training and experience in accounting who were responsible for managing the books at that time. However, he took full responsibility for the mistakes and acknowledged that the ultimate responsibility lies with him.

According to the article, he stated that he needed the guns to ensure the protection of the courthouse. Additionally, he believed that involving his son in court work would be beneficial.

According to the report, Self mentioned that he had initially expected the individual to be present for a few months before pursuing law school. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances of the pandemic, those plans were disrupted.

If he is found guilty, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $30,000 for each of the charges related to the violation of the ethics law. Additionally, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine for making a false statement to the examiners and committing perjury, according to authorities.

The article titled “Judge Allegedly Misuses $50,000 in Public Funds for Personal Expenses” was recently published on Law & Crime. The State Attorney General has accused a judge of using $50,000 of public funds for unauthorized purposes, including beach and ski vacations, furniture purchases, alcohol, and eyeglasses.

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