• 63°

Testimony in Blair case to begin Wed.

Staff Writer

May 22, 2000 10 PM

Pike County Revenue Commissioner Curtis Blair will have his day in court on Wednesday.

Over two years after being indicted by a Pike County Grand Jury, Blair’s case will be heard by Judge John Rochester of the 40th Judicial Circuit in Ashland.

"I’m just proud it’s finally in the position of being resolved," said District Attorney Mark Fuller.

Rochester will hear the case beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Pike County Courthouse.

In April 1998, the Grand Jury found Blair "did use an official position or office…with the intent to obtain direct personal financial gain." A second count stated the Grand Jury found Blair "did with the intent to knowingly and willfully obtain direct personal financial gain…by failing and/or refusing to pay penalties and/or interest owed on the delinquent taxes of himself or that of his family."

Blair, who is being represented by N.J. Cervera, entered a "not guilty" plea in June of last year. A month later, he withdrew his demand for a trial by jury.

Almost two years after he was indicted, Blair will face the Clay County judge. Blair waived his right to a trial by jury.

Rochester will determine whether or not Blair is guilty of using his office for personal gain since he was ordered by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Perry Hooper to hear the case after local judges recused themselves based on their working relationship with Blair..

In August 1998, the case stalled when all three of Pike County’s circuit judges and the two district judges recused themselves and asked the Alabama Supreme Court to find a judge from outside the circuit. That is when Rochester was ordered to hear the case.

Cervera refused to comment on the case at this time because of ongoing litigation.

Blair continues to hold the office of revenue commissioner, which he has held since 1997.

He served for an additional 18 years as Pike County Tax Collector, serving the county from 1979 until 1997 when the offices of tax collector and tax assessor were merged.

Fuller would not comment on testimony in the case due the case’s pending status.

Fuller said he is hopeful to bring the issue to a resolution in the coming days.