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Dothan mayor testifies before grand jury probing corruption

Testimony reportedly centered on a contract SEAGD had with a company owned by House Speaker Mike Hubbard before Schmitz became chairman.
Mayor Mike Schmitz of Dothan testified Friday before a Lee County grand jury investigating possible political corruption in Alabama according to those with knowledge of the proceedings.

Schmitz appeared before the panel only in his capacity as chairman member of the Southeast Alabama Gas District according to a person not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. His testimony centered on a contract SEAGD had with a company owned by House Speaker Mike Hubbard before Schmitz became chairman.

Schmitz declined comment when contacted last week by DothanFirst after word of a subpoena leaked. It is illegal to reveal certain information, including testimony, regarding grand jury proceedings.

The $12,000 per month deal involving Hubbard’s Auburn Network and SEAGD was canceled in August, 2013—the same month the grand jury began hearing evidence. A Hubbard spokesperson told AL.com the speaker ended the agreement due to “unfounded criticism being generated by politically-motivated liberal groups in Montgomery.”

The grand jury recently indicted Rep. Barry Moore (R)-Enterprise on four felony charges including making false statements to the panel. Rep. Greg Wren (R)-Montgomery recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating state ethics laws. Wren received a 12-month suspended sentence and resigned his seat in the House.

Wren acknowledged taking legislative action that could have steered Medicaid pharmacy business to a Bessemer pharmacy cooperative that had ties to another company that hired Wren as consultant, according to the plea agreement and AL.com.

Schmitz is among several local elected officials who are believed to have testified before the grand jury. Others include Rep. Paul Lee (R)-Dothan and Rep. Steve Clouse (R)-Ozark. Also providing testimony was Mayor Billy Blackwell of Ozark who served as SEAGD chairman prior to Schmitz.

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