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Georgia legislator, son of civil rights leader, indicted

ATLANTA (AllPolitics, October 20) -- Georgia state Sen. Ralph David Abernathy III was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on 35 counts, including forgery, violation of the oath of office and influencing a witness.

The son of one of the Rev. Martin Luther King's principal lieutenants during the civil rights movement, Abernathy became the target of an investigation after a state worker alleged that he had instructed her to file for expenses he was not entitled to receive.

The indictments, handed down by a Fulton County grand jury, include 10 counts of theft by taking, 10 counts of giving false statements, 10 counts of violation of oath of office, four counts of first degree forgery, and one count of attempting to influence a witness.

Abernathy read a statement to the grand jury denying the charges. Later his attorney, Steve Strelzik, told reporters, "He's definitely not guilty."

According to the state attorney general's office the theft by taking, if found guilty, carries a sentence of one to 15 years for each count.

Abernathy had a previous brush with the law in 1997 when a drug-sniffing dog alerted customs officials at Atlanta's airport. Officers found a small quantity of marijuana in Abernathy's underwear. He paid a $500 fine.


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Tuesday, October 20, 1998

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