Wilson, the statement said, was elected to the office of Sheriff of Cherokee County, Ala. in the general election of November 2002 and took the oath of office and assumed his duties as sheriff Jan. 16, 2003.
“While a candidate for this office and prior to the June primary election in the year 2002, I heard various rumors from citizens of this county of possible criminal acts being committed by law enforcement officers of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department,” said Wilson. “At that time I took it upon myself to go to the federal authorities and request an investigation into the merit of those rumors. During this visit I assured the federal authorities that should I be elected sheriff in the general election they could count on my full and complete cooperation in any investigation initiated by that agency.”
After the general election but prior to the date Wilson took office as the newly elected sheriff of Cherokee county, he went again to the federal authorities and inquired about the possibility of a federal investigation into the rumors that had surfaced during his campaign and was advised that they would look into the matters of his concern. “It now appears that at the time of my visit to that agency a federal investigation was already underway,” said Wilson. “However, I was not informed of that fact.”
“I was recently contacted by the federal authorities and requested to travel to Birmingham for the purpose of disclosing to them any information that I might have regarding their investigation into past possible criminal activities in the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department,” said Wilson. “I fully cooperated with the federal authorities on that occasion and reassured them that I will continue to do so as needed.”
“During my visit with the federal authorities in Birmingham I was informed that the Federal Grand Jury proceedings are of a highly secret nature and matters involving Grand Juries cannot be disclosed,” said Wilson. “Consequently, I contacted my friend and attorney, Mr. Charles Mauney of Fort Payne for legal guidance concerning those matters. Mr. Mauney advised me that it was my responsibility to fully cooperate with the federal government in their investigation of the alleged criminal misconduct in the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office and that it would be in the best interest of that investigation to refrain from disclosing to the press or general public any information I have learned during my participation and assistance with the federal authorities in their investigation. Mr. Mauney further advised that nondisclosure on investigative information would serve to safeguard and protect the integrity of the investigation about which I speak. Acting upon that advice I have and must remain silent on those matters pending the outcome of that investigation. I can, however, assure the citizens of Cherokee County that I am not the focus of this federal probe.”
On a topic unrelated to the federal investigation, Wilson said, last Thursday, Feb. 5, Mauney, at Wilson’s direction, disclosed to the press and public that two law enforcement members of Wilson’s staff, one of whom was a member of the Cherokee County Drug Task Force, had been dismissed and terminated from this office and were relieved of their duties with that agency. “Then on Friday, Feb. 6, it was also announced to the press and public that a second member of the Drug Task Force has also been dismissed and terminated from employment with this office,” said Wilson.
“It was my judgment that the discharge of those individuals would be in the best interest of this sheriff’s office and the citizens of this county,” said Wilson. “I want our citizens to know that in spite of the dismissal of these individuals from this department’s Drug Task Force that unit remains in tact and will continue to be committed to the eradication of drug manufacturing and trafficking in Cherokee County, Alabama.”
“At the time of my election to this office it was my commitment to the citizens of this county to serve them with honor, dignity and integrity and that remains my commitment to our citizens today.