----- Original Message -----
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade
Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2003 1:33 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Guard at St Clair Prison
Ex-guard pleads guilty in drug sales
News staff writer
A former prison guard accused of punching convicted church bomber Thomas Blanton has pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from selling drugs in prison.
Cedric Bothwell, 39, of Ashville changed his earlier plea of not guilty after a jury was sworn in for his trial Tuesday. Court records show Bothwell pleaded guilty to one count of a five-count indictment.
Bothwell, who was a guard at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, brought marijuana into the prison and sold it to an inmate, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Bothwell's charges related to an extortion investigation at the prison, where the FBI said he sold drugs at the prison, allowed an inmate to build a debt and accepted payment from the inmate's mother.
"We will aggressively prosecute drug offenses no matter who the defendant may be," said U.S. Attorney Alice Martin.
Bothwell previously denied the allegations.
"This was a case that we were prepared to vigorously defend, but there were reasons that the plea to the marijuana count was in Mr. Bothwell's best interest," said his attorney, Marcus Reid of Anniston.
In July, Bothwell's former defense attorney, John Floyd, was convicted on charges of tampering with a witness in the federal extortion investigation involving Bothwell.
Bothwell was fired following his indictment and arrest after having worked for the system for 15 years.
Blanton, a former Klansman convicted of bombing the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killing four girls, claimed that Bothwell, who is black punched him in the face. Prison officials said an investigation showed there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute.
Bothwell could receive up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced before U.S. District Chief Judge U.W. Clemon.