MINDEN, La. – A Webster Parish District Court judge this afternoon convicted Cotton Valley Mayor Joseph Alexander of two counts of abuse of office.
The verdict comes two weeks after a bench trial before District Judge Parker Self.
Alexander, who was not found guilty of a third count of abuse of office, will be sentenced Aug. 16. He faces a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment from one to five years.
"I didn't arrive at this lightly. The public office is a public trust. It has nothing to do with being a black or white, east or west, left or right. This has to do with the law and the facts judicially applied to the evidence that was p resented," Self said from the bench.
Alexander was upset with the verdict, telling KTBS he couldn't see how the judge found the witnesses credible when in his opinion the defense "proved them to be lies in court."
The charges stemmed from separate incidents that happened in 2017 in which the first-term mayor used his position to for political gain. The first happened in February when Alexander convinced the former Cullen police chief and an officer not to move forward with an arrest for marijuana possession.
Alexander was arrested at a park after hours when an officer saw him put something under the seat of his car. The officer found marijuana and arrested Alexander. The marijuana was seized but later flushed down the toilet. The DA’s office wasn’t told about the charge.
Then in November, Alexander had the town clerk write him a check for $500 for personal travel.
Alexander was not convicted on the count related to the accusation he used the town's credit card to buy a car battery worth about $120. The battery was for his personal vehicle.
It's uncertain when Alexander will have to step down from office. He was elected in the fall of 2016, defeating incumbent Mayor Comerdis Phillips. Alexander's term expires Dec. 31, 2020.
He remains free on a previously posted $5,000 bond.
Alexander's attorney, Edward Mouton, said he will appeal Self's decision.
Editor's Note: This story corrects an earlier posting about specifics of the counts.