Alabama judge arrested, charged with spending public funds on sofa, alcohol, trips

The presiding judge of the 11th Circuit state court in Lauderdale County, Ala., was charged Monday with 16 counts of misusing public funds on personal purchases and vacation trips. Photo by Rudi Weikard/Wikimedia Commons
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Jan. 29 (UPI) -- An Alabama state judge has been arrested and charged with using taxpayer money to fund personal purchases and vacation trips, the state's attorney general announced Monday.

Circuit Judge Gilbert Self, 61, of Florence, Ala., faces 16 counts of using his public office for the personal gain of himself or family members, as well as counts of making false representations to accountants and of perjury, according to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Self, the presiding judge of the state's Eleventh Judicial Circuit, surrendered to authorities at the Lauderdale, Ala., County Sheriff's Office, the attorney general said in a statement.

Sheriff Joe Hamilton told the judge was released after posting bonds totaling $75,000.

The arrest comes in the wake an indictment issued against Self after investigators completed a probe of Lauderdale County's judicial administration and law library funds, Marshall said.

According to the indictment, Self engaged in illegal behavior between April 2020 and February 2023, during which he allegedly spent more than $50,000 of public funds to employ his son and to make personal purchases such as a sofa, alcoholic beverages and eyeglasses.

He is also accused of illegally reimbursing 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."

Marshall similarly accused the judge of reimbursing himself travel expenses for events he did not actually attend in Reno, Nev., Duck Key, Fla., Mackinac Island, Mich., and Alabama.

Self is also accused to of making a false statement while testifying before the grand jury earlier this month.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment and a $30,000 fine for each of the 16 ethics charges, and up to 10 years of imprisonment and a $15,000 fine for the false statements and perjury counts, Marshall said.