A decision could come next week in the trial of Sumter County Commissioner Al Hurley, according to local reports. The trial, in which Hurley is being tried for extortion and bribery, began this Wednesday in Federal Court.
Local media reported that jurors listened to FBI taped phone calls between Hurley and a Michigan contractor during the first day of the trial. Hurley asked for $15,000 in exchange for county work contracts. In addition to the taped phone calls, text messages between Hurley and the contractor are being used as evidence.
Hurley was indicted in May for his alleged role in soliciting illicit payments in exchange for his official efforts to secure government contracts for a private contractor. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Hurley, 54, is charged in a three-count indictment filed in the Middle District of Georgia with attempted extortion, bribery and false statements.
Hurley is an elected member of the five-member Sumter County Board of Commissioners, but his term ends December 31 and he did not seek re-election.
The indictment alleges that “from September to December 2011, Hurley, in his capacity as a county commissioner, solicited and agreed to accept cash payments, including $5,000 on Oct. 23, 2011, and $15,000 on Dec. 19, 2011, from a private contractor, in exchange for Hurley’s use of official action and influence to facilitate the award of county contracting work to the contractor.”
In addition, according to the indictment, on Dec. 19, 2011, Hurley lied to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when he falsely claimed that he never solicited money from the contractor.
If convicted of attempted extortion, according to the DOJ, Hurley faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. On the bribery charge, Hurley faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false statement charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and an additional $250,000 fine.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford L. Seals of the Middle District of Georgia. This case was investigated by the FBI.