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Public corruption cases on the rise in Alabama

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Alabama Ethics Commissioner James Sumner agrees his office has seen an uptick. Alabama Ethics Commissioner James Sumner agrees his office has seen an uptick.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Alabama Attorney General's Office has indicted five people in two corruption cases in the last two weeks and more cases are pending.

The defendants were accused of using their elected or appointed positions for personal gain and your tax dollars are allegedly at stake.

The Elmore County coroner's office, Autaugaville Water Works and Autaugaville Volunteer Fire Department are all unassuming offices for personal gain. But two separate grand juries decided otherwise.

Alabama Ethics Commissioner James Sumner agrees his office has seen an uptick.

"It's not the person serving in their first term or second term that's going to step over the line. It's the person or officeholder that's in their third or fourth or fifth term, and they begin to get comfortable," Sumner said.

Sumner leads the state agency that intercepts complaints against public officials -- appointed or elected -- investigates the complaints, and recommends if it should be pursued for criminal charges.

"We've always gotten a significant number of complaints. Because of the education levels, because more people are aware and cognizant of what the law is, the complaints are becoming more substantive," Sumner said.

Sumner also attributed the increase to the Attorney General's new Special Prosecutions Unit, which is dedicated solely to public corruption. It's also responsible for the recent round of indictments in Elmore and Autauga counties.

"The idea of them taking the money and using it for their own personal benefit or lining their pockets is abhorrent," Sumner said.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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