Alabama lawmaker facing theft charges from former workplace

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Rep. Will Dismukes has been arrested on theft charges after his former employer accused him of stealing, the Montgomery County district attorney announced Friday.

Montgomery District Attorney Daryl Bailey announced at a news conference that a warrant on first-degree theft charges has been issued for Dismukes. Jail records show Dismukes was arrested later on one count of first-degree theft after turning himself in and was being released on $5,000 bail.

Dismukes is a Republican legislator from Prattville who recently faced calls for his resignation after attending a celebration marking the birthday of a Confederate general who was an early Ku Klux Klan leader.

The charges stem from an alleged theft at Weiss Flooring where Dismukes was previously employed. Bailey said the business made a complaint on May 20 “regarding an alleged theft of a large sum of money from their business from an employee " in the period from 2016 to 2018.

“After countless hours of investigation, which consisted of witness interviews, obtaining bank records, and gathering other evidence a decision was made by myself and other prosecutors in my office, along with these investigators, that probable cause existed that a crime had been committed,” Bailey said.

The district attorney said he was limited in what he could say about the case. First-degree theft is a Class B felony that involves the theft of more than $2,500 in property.

“I will tell you the alleged amount is a lot more than that,” Bailey said.

Dismukes did not immediately return a text message seeking comment. He told WSFA-TV that he is innocent.

If convicted of a felony, Dismukes would automatically be removed from office.

Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said in a statement released on Twitter that, “it is very disappointing to hear of these allegations."

“This is now a legal matter and it must run its course," Lathan said.

Dismukes has recently faced sharp criticism, including a call to resign, for participating in a celebration marking the birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest — the Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader. Dismukes attended a gathering and posted a photo from the event on his Facebook page. The photo showed Dismukes speaking in front of several Confederate flags.

“Had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest annual birthday celebration. Always a great time and some sure enough good eating!!” the Republican state House member wrote in a post no longer visible on his public page.

The post came on the same day that the state was honoring the late John Lewis, an Alabama native who served for decades in Congress and had a long record of fighting for civil rights. Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80.

Dismukes, who is chaplain of a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, later posted that it was not his intent to disrespect Lewis or glorify the Klan.

He faced criticism from both parties over the incident.

Wade Perry, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, called on Dismukes to resign. Lathan called Dismukes explanation “shallow in understanding” about why it was offensive to many.