Mon May 02 17:01:22 PDT 2016
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Snakegate: Attorney claims commissioner orchestrated lawsuit against himself, others
Ken Curtis

Attorney John White claims a Dale County commissioner defeated in his re-election bid conspired with a felon to bring a lawsuit involving a snake against the county he represents. The allegation, citing a law enforcement report, accuses District 4 Commissioner Wes Strickland of helping orchestrate a suit filed against the commission and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson. White provided a State Bureau of Investigation report that shows Trawick Redding, Jr. identified Strickland as the man who picked him up at home and drove him to a rest area south of Ozark. There, they met a third man Redding didn’t know, according to the report. “Mr. Strickland got with Mr. Redding and said what happened to you is wrong. We’ve got a fund set up and (a lawsuit) could be worth several hundred thousand dollars to you,” White said. Redding later filed a federal lawsuit alleging that two corrections officers at the Dale County Jail put a small snake—a Burmese Python---in Redding’s bunk. Redding, a jail trusty at the time of the snake incident, sought compensatory damages as well as $3 million in punitive damages. The lawsuit has since been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. The officers were terminated. Strickland told WTVY/WRGX the allegation is “absolutely false” but declined to further discuss the matter. White said it’s unclear whether Strickland’s actions constitute a crime though they could be an ethics violation. He said the motive is apparently ongoing issues between Strickland and Olson. He also alleges Strickland is involved in four other claims against the county along with Birmingham attorney Mark Weinberg who represented Redding. “To think he would be out telling constituents you need to sue the county and sue the sheriff is a breach of (his duties),” White said. Redding has been released from prison in 2013, months before the alleged incident. He could not be reached for comment because he is, again, an Alabama Department of Corrections inmate. Frankie Wilson defeated Strickland 939-723 in Tuesday’s runoff.

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