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Lauderdale County Circuit Court judge arrested on 18 felony charges

An Alabama circuit court judge has been arrested on 18 felony charges after an audit by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Monday. The audit examined the Lauderdale County Presiding Judge’s Judicial Administration Fund and the Law Library Fund.

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Gilbert P. Self of Florence turned himself in at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, Marshall’s office said, and has been charged with the following:

  • Sixteen counts of the use of office for personal gain or for the gain of family members
  • One count of making a false representation to the Examiners of Public Accounts
  • One count of perjury

According to a statement from Marshall’s office, the prohibited activity for which he was indicted includes the use of more than $50,000 of public funds to employ his son and the use of public funds for personal purchases such as a sofa, alcoholic beverages, and eyeglasses. He is further charged with using his office to reimburse himself with public funds for a variety of vacations, including a ski trip to Montana, a beach trip, a cycling trip across three states, and a trip to St. Ignace, Mich.

“From the first time the auditors brought these issues to my attention, I have acknowledged honest but correctable mistakes were made in the two bank accounts I administered as Presiding Judge,” Self said in a statement. “These mistakes happened over a period of time when our court system was under immense pressure due to the pandemic and being understaffed and overloaded. At no time did I intend to violate any law. Lauderdale County is not out any money and all of the money in question is in those accounts.

“Nothing can change the mistakes I made and my embarrassment and regret are painful realities. Thankfully my wife, sons, family, friends, and church have been steadfast in their support. I look forward to having the citizens of our community review what happened and consider the unprecedented circumstances surrounding many of these events.”

The indictment also charges him with paying himself out of public funds for travel to events he did not attend in Reno, Nev.; Duck Key, Fla.; Mackinac Island, Mich.; and Alabama. The indictment further accuses Self of double-dipping for per diem and mileage and making false representations to the Examiners of Public Accounts during an audit.

Finally, the indictment charges Self with making a false statement while sworn to tell the truth in front of a Lauderdale County grand jury this month, the statement from Marshall’s office said.

If convicted, Self faces a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment and a $30,000 fine for each of the sixteen charges for violating the Ethics Law, which are class B felonies, and up to 10 years of imprisonment. He also will have to pay a $15,000 fine for making a false statement to the Examiners and for perjury, which are class C felonies.

Self was released Monday after posting bonds totaling $75,000.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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