MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A routine bail hearing on Friday turned dramatic, with prosecutors revealing that an early morning search of former Prichard Water Board operations director Nia Bradley uncovered evidence she planned to escape.
Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty granted a prosecution request to hold Bradley without bond. Defense attorney Jason Darley said he will appeal the decision to a circuit judge.
Bradley is accused of stealing over $200,000 from the Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board. Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said the amount was “absolutely” well over that threshold.
Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Clay Rossi, who prosecutes white-collar crimes, told the judge that law enforcement officers executing a search warrant at Bradley’s home this morning found copies newly issued birth certificate, a newly issued passport in her husband’s name and unopened. mail from the San Diego Passport Office.
“This leads us to believe that Ms. Bradley is a flight risk,” he said.
Prosecutors said they would seek a warrant to open the passport mail. At Bradley’s on Friday morning, you could see boxes from high-end retailers. The allegations against her involve charges she made to her credit card for purchases from retailers including Gucci, Victoria’s Secret and Louis Vuitton, as well as building materials that Rich says were not used by the utility. Investigators say long guns were also found in the home.
Bradley, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.
Darley argued that his client was not a threat to the public or a flight risk. He noted that Bradley is a longtime Mobile County resident with deep community ties.
“These accusations have generated a lot of interest,” he said. “But she is presumed innocent. It is a non-violent offence. … It’s almost as if they’ve arrested the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Bradley’s husband, Anthony Bradley III, 51, was arrested at home on Friday morning and transported away from the scene in handcuffs. Officials told FOX10 News he was charged with receiving first degree stolen property and other charges were pending.
Nia Bradley surrendered on Wednesday for first-degree robbery by deception and aggravated robbery by deception. The latter is a Class A felony – the same as murder – but carries a different range of penalties. Instead of 10 years to life in prison, the legislator set the prison sentence between five and 30 years in prison.
Lawmakers passed the law to target large, complex fraud schemes, like the one led by financier Bernie Madoff.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time he’s been tested in Alabama state courts,” Rich told reporters after the hearing.
The water board initially placed Bradley in his operations manager role as an independent contractor for monthly pay of $12,500 per month, or $150,000 over a full year. Other directors also got monthly gigs from independent contractors and the use of corporate credit cards.
Critics argue that the board at the time did so in order to circumvent the Mobile County staff council and avoid having to advertise the positions.
Rich said his office is investigating others, although no one else has been arrested yet. She said she was “in disbelief” of Bradley’s behavior.
“The brazenness of her and the other people we find out who are involved in this is right – it’s just cheeky,” she said. “I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Darley argued that the board approved his client’s expenses, sometimes in lieu of contractually mandated bonuses he had no cash to pay.
As for bail, Darley said his client was entitled to it. He said he had never seen a case in which a defendant charged with a non-violent crime was denied bail.
“We knew this investigation was coming,” he told reporters. “As far as the search warrants go, she didn’t run away. She surrendered. You know, we cooperated as much as possible.
Darley said Prichard’s water system problems go back long before Bradley’s tenure.
“You’ve seen the spreadsheets,” he said. “There are a lot of names on it. … Is she a scapegoat? Yeah, at this point, she’s a scapegoat.
Hardesty has set Bradley’s arraignment date for March 7, when she will formally answer the charges.
Updated at 10:23 a.m. with additional information.
Copyright 2022 FOX10 News. All rights reserved.