From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — The 2019 felony ethics convictions of former Birmingham Water Works Board Chairman Sherry Lewis will be upheld after the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in the case.
Attorney General Steve Marshall made the announcement Friday.
Lewis was convicted, following a one-and-one-half week trial, of having used her position as a director of the Birmingham Water Works Board to obtain personal gain for herself and her family, as well as having voted and participated in matters before the Board involving issues about which she had a financial interest or gain.
The jury’s verdict was based on evidence showing that Lewis obtained three jobs for her son, tickets to the 2015 Cotton Bowl, trips and travel expenses, and extravagant meals from Jerry Jones, a contractor performing work for the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Water Works. After trial, Judge Jones ordered that Lewis be held in the Jefferson County Jail pending a pre-sentence investigation and sentencing.
In December 2019, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones sentenced Lewis under Alabama’s split-sentence law to a 10-year sentence of imprisonment for both counts, to run concurrently, with a “reverse split” of two years in prison. In addition, Jones ordered Lewis to pay a fine of $15,000 for each count, for a total of $30,000, and further ordered Lewis to complete a total of 400 hours of community service for charities or agencies that feed the elderly and homeless. Under a reverse-split sentence, the term of imprisonment is not imposed until the end of the sentence, and the period of imprisonment could possibly be suspended if the defendant satisfies all other terms and conditions of her sentence.
Lewis subsequently appealed her convictions of the two felony ethics charges and on Sept. 3, 2021, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the convictions.
“I am pleased that the Court today upheld the conviction of Sherry Lewis and that she will not evade justice for criminal acts she committed in a flagrant abuse of the public trust,” said Attorney General Marshall. “I am proud of the excellent work performed by Assistant Attorney General James Houts, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Clark Morris, Assistant Attorney General Jasper Roberts and agents of our Special Prosecutions Division, who handled the case at trial and during the appeals process. I also want to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its outstanding work in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion.”