Alabama sheriff faces 30 years behind bars for forging $200,000 loans to pay gambling debts

01 Nov

An Alabama sheriff who resigned amid corruption charges has pleaded guilty to forging loans of nearly $200,000 to pay off gambling debts.

William Ray Norris, 44, a former Clarke County sheriff, applied for several business loans — totaling more than $192,000 — from Town Country National Bank between November 2017 and June 2020.

Norris, who pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a federally insured facility, claimed the loans would be used to fund office supplies and food for prisoners.

Instead, the indictment against Norris in an Alabama court found he used the money for “overdrawn personal accounts, gambling and other personal expenses.”

Norris was also accused of using part of a $75,000 loan from the same bank to pay off $25,000 in personal loans taken out by him and his wife at the same bank.

His defense attorney, Gordon G. Armstrong, tried to downplay Norris’ crimes, telling reporters:

“He had been doing business with this bank for a long time, knew the banker, knew the president of the bank and was a little careless with some documents.”

Armstrong added:

“But everything has been reimbursed. So it really is a victimless crime at this point.

The prosecution clearly disagrees and the ex-sheriff is considering a prison sentence of up to 30 years, with three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine, under the terms of his plea agreement.

Norris had previously surrendered his sheriff’s badge after being charged with “crimes involving moral turpitude”, but his impeachment proceedings for corruption were dropped following his resignation.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said at the time:

“Sheriff Norris could no longer be trusted as a public servant or as a law enforcement official, and his resignation should be a welcome relief to the public.”

Norris’ case is just the latest involving police and gambling, with Nassau County Detective Hector Rosario recently charged with accepting money from the Bonanno family in exchange for to have organized police raids on competing gambling dens.

Further, authorities in Macau earlier this year accused an assistant sergeant of taking bribes from the boss of a VIP gambling establishment in exchange for information about police movements.

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