A GOP lawmaker in Alabama who faced backlash for attending a KKK grand wizard’s birthday celebration last month and was forced to resign as pastor of his church has now been charged with felony theft, prosecutors announced Thursday.
State Rep. Will Dismukes of Prattville turned himself in to authorities and was charged with first-degree property theft after more than $2,500 was siphoned from a flooring company he worked for between 2016 and 2018, prosecutors said.
Dismukes was later released on bail.
Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey announced the charge at a press conference Thursday and said a warrant was issued for Dismukes’ arrest earlier in the day.
“The alleged amount is a lot more” than the $2,500 minimum needed for the charge, said Baily, whose office received a complaint on May 20 from a local business.
“After countless hours of investigation, which consisted of witness interviews, obtaining bank records, and gathering other evidence, a decision was made by myself and prosecutors in my office, along with these investigators, that probable cause existed” to file criminal charges, Bailey said.
The allegations were brought by the owners of Weiss Commercial Flooring Inc., where Dismukes worked as a project manager before he was elected to the Alabama state legislature, WSFA-TV 12 reported. Weiss declined to comment to Fox News.
An attorney representing Dismukes, Trey Norman, told Fox News on Friday that he believes the charges against his client are politically motivated, given the recent controversies surrounding the state legislator.
“I’m concerned about the timing of all of this,” Norman said, adding that Dismukes knew for a week that investigators were probing the theft case, but he was arrested a day after being questioned by authorities.
First-degree theft carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison in Alabama, in addition to fines.
Wade Perry, the Executive Director of the Alabama Democratic Party is urging Dismukes to resign, not just because of the theft charge, but because of the compounding accusations against him related to his support of the KKK.
“He should resign because he is a racist confederate apologist who is stuck in 1865 and is an embarrassment to the state of Alabama in 2020,” Perry told Fox News in a statement.
“We expect our elected officials, regardless of party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Terry Lathan, the chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party, wrote on Twitter. “No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course.”
Dismukes previously generated a firestorm of controversy when he posted a photo on Facebook of himself celebrating the birthday of KKK leader and Confederate Army Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on the same day that the state honored the legacy of the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.
Dismukes refused to resign from his political post amid bipartisan backlash and instead offered an apology to his constituents. He was ousted as pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
When asked if Dismukes would resign given the recent allegations against him, Norman told Fox News: “Why should he?”
“Will’s done a great job. None of these allegations have anything to do with him as a public official or taking any money from the state of Alabama or the constituents in his district. We’re not guilty,” Norman said.