Indictment accuses judge of using public funds to employ his son, travel, buy couch and alcohol
The presiding judge of Alabama’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Lauderdale County, Alabama, has been charged with lying to a grand jury and using public funds for personal purchases and his son’s employment. (Image from Shutterstock)
The presiding judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Lauderdale County, Alabama, has been charged with lying to a grand jury and using public funds for personal purchases and his son’s employment.
Judge Gilbert P. Self, 61, of Florence, Alabama, has been indicted on 18 counts, 16 of them for alleged use of his office for personal gain or the gain of family members, according to a Jan. 29 press release by Alabama’s attorney general. The other two counts allege perjury and a false statement to public auditors.
Self is accused of spending public money for a couch; alcoholic beverages; eyeglasses and vacations, including skiing, cycling and beach trips. He is also accused of using public money for events that he didn’t attend in Reno, Nevada; Duck Key, Florida; and Mackinac Island, Michigan.
WHNT had specifics on alleged purchases from the indictment. They included a double reclining console sofa, grab-and-go beers, a chocolate martini and framing for his son’s diploma.
The indictment stemmed from a state audit that questioned several payments made from two court-fee funded accounts overseen by Self. The Alabama Daily News covered the audit findings in October 2023. The audit said Self had hired his son as a law clerk.
Self told the Alabama Daily News that his son was applying to law schools after graduating in December 2019, and he hired his son for $10 per hour in what he thought would be short-term employment.
“I thought he’d be here several months and then go on to law school; then the pandemic hit,” Self said.
He added that his son helped keep the office running during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self’s lawyers told WHNT that he voluntarily repaid all the funds spent “on these honest and correctable mistakes.”
Self also released a statement to WHNT. It reads, “From the first time the auditors brought these issues to my attention, I have acknowledged honest but correctable mistakes were made in the two bank accounts I administered as presiding judge. These mistakes happened over a period of time, when our court system was under immense pressure due to the pandemic and being understaffed and overloaded. At no time did I intend to violate any law. Lauderdale County is not out any money, and all of the money in question is in those accounts.
“Nothing can change the mistakes I made and my embarrassment and regret are painful realities. Thankfully, my wife, sons, family, friends and church have been steadfast in their support. I look forward to having the citizens of our community review what happened and consider the unprecedented circumstances surrounding many of these events.”