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Updated: Former White Hall mayor sentenced to prison

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Former White Hall Mayor John Jackson was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine last Thursday in connection with his pleading guilty to one count of filing a false tax return, according to his attorney Henry “Hank” Sanders of Selma.

Sanders said Judge Keith Watkins for the Middle District of Alabama handed down the sentence. He said Jackson must report on Aug. 11.

According to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department, Jackson did not report as income money he took from the city of White Hall and money he diverted from non-profit companies who handled the gaming license for White Hall.

Jackson was also sentenced to one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and restitution in the amount of $11,065.

The United States Justice and Internal Revenue Service announced on March 11 that Jackson pleaded before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Walker in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery.

The report cited court documents according to which Jackson admitted filing a false joint 2004 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, that did not report all the income earned by Jackson and his spouse. He also admitted to filing false joint Individual Tax Returns, Form 1040, for 2005 and 2006 that also did not include all the income of he and his spouse.

Jackson faced a maximum of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the loss resulting from his offense.

Sanders represented Jackson in both state and federal court.

“I represented him. We had a plea bargain with the U.S. attorney for one year. The judge rejected the one year and increased it to two years,” said Sanders. He said all of this came out the matter in which Jackson invested his own money for the whole bingo effort.

Sanders said he had known Jackson for many years and served as the lawyer who helped Jackson incorporate the town of White Hall.

He said Jackson worked without pay, but, “he kept working, trying to make something out of the White Hall community in a special way.”

Sanders said he normally did not take criminal cases, but Jackson was an exception, “because I know he was determined to have something that would provide jobs in White Hall, something that would provide a tax base for White Hall.”

Sanders also said he hoped the judge would give Jackson probation for one year, “but the judge rejected it. And under the law, the judge had a right to reject it.”

Sanders said Jackson invested his own money, but “He didn’t go about the right way of trying to get his money back, so it appeared as income.” He said, “He didn’t do it the right way, but he’s really been trying to help.”

Jackson was previously sentenced in December of 2009 to a one-year suspended sentence and two years probation for the misdemeanor charge of using his office for public gain and not allowed to run for office for two years, according to Lowndes County District Attorney John Andrews.

Also according to the Justice Department, John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division and George Beck, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, commended the IRS special agents who investigated this case and Trial Attorney Michael Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Southern Criminal Enforcement Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown who prosecuted the case.