Hancock commissioner to lose seat after guilty plea

In the wake of a Hancock County commissioner’s guilty plea to a federal conspiracy charge, the commissioner must resign or be sentenced within eight days for his seat to be listed on the ballot for the November general election.

Hancock County Attorney Lee Shafer said the county learned of Commissioner Adam Jackson’s June 28 plea to conspiracy to making false statements “through the grapevine.”

While Jackson can legally remain in office until his sentencing, Shafer said the commissioners would like to see him resign.

“It’s so the citizens of Hancock County can participate in the election of a commissioner,” she said.

Messages left for the commission’s chairman were not returned Wednesday.

Scott Huggins, Jackson’s lawyer, said he doesn’t know whether Jackson plans to resign. His sentencing is scheduled for the end of September, Huggins said.

When Jackson’s seat becomes vacant, the county’s probate judge will have the power to fill the seat. If Jackson doesn’t vacate his seat within eight days, the judge’s appointment will last until the end of his term, which is about two more years, Shafer said.

Shafer said Jackson has not attended meetings or participated in meetings since his indictment in January.

Jackson initially was indicted on charges of conspiracy and two counts of making a false statement, according to federal court records.

Bradford G. Brown was released on supervised release in 2007 after being convicted of two counts of tax evasion. As a condition of his release, Brown was required to “work regularly at a lawful occupation,” according to Jackson’s indictment.

Jackson is accused of signing a letter written to Brown’s probation officer in January 2008 that stated the commissioners had offered Brown a job as the Hancock Care administrative consultant, a nonexistent job. Jackson signed the letter in his official capacity as vice chairman of the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, according to the indictment.

Jackson later admitted he wrote the letter and that the letter was a mere “promise” of employment, according to court records.

He signed a second letter written to the probation officer in February 2008 that said Brown had been formally offered a job and that the board of commissioners unanimously accepted Brown’s proposal for requirements of the position, according to the indictment.

Jackson allegedly knew there was no position and that the board had not unanimously accepted Brown’s proposal, according to court records.

A sentencing recommendation prepared by the U.S. Probation Office suggests Jackson be sentenced to between 15 and 21 months in prison. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, according to court records.

Brown also was indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of the due administration of justice and four counts of making a false statement. His case is pending in federal court, according to court records.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.