Dawson was indicted by a grand jury this week on a charge of first-degree theft of property for allegedly stealing more than $5,000 from Anniston Pathology while he was employed there, according to Anniston police.
Dawson was arrested around 10:30 a.m. after he turned himself in at the Anniston Police Department, Lt. Fred Forsythe said. He was taken to the Calhoun County Jail from there.
The charge stems from crimes allegedly committed between 2007 and 2011 at Anniston Pathology, Forsythe said. Business officials notified police about the missing money and their suspicions of Dawson’s alleged role in it sometime in January, the lieutenant said.
That same month, the councilman resigned from his job – where he had spent 30 years – following what he called a “disagreement” at the business.
Dawson’s attorney, Joel Laird, posted his $2,500 bail and picked him up from the jail this morning.
“No comment and don’t call me,” Dawson said as he emerged from the jail around noon.
The two walked across the parking lot together, and Dawson climbed in the passenger side of a gray sports utility vehicle without another word.
Laird stopped to answer questions.
“We’ve been talking for weeks,” said Laird, who also is representing Dawson in a lawsuit filed against him in February alleging sexual harassment. It was natural for him to represent Dawson in the criminal matter as well, Laird said.
Laird said he had talked with District Attorney Brian McVeigh earlier this week and requested that Dawson have the opportunity to turn himself in.
“We just wanted to handle this so it was as easy as possible on everyone,” Laird said.
Wednesday’s arrest is the latest in a series of challenges for Dawson, who was elected to represent Anniston’s Ward 4 on the City Council in 2008.
In February, a former Regional Medical Center employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Dawson, based on incidents that also allegedly occurred while he worked at Anniston Pathology. That case is still open and an attorney’s meeting is set for July 31.
By June, Forsythe said, the criminal investigation into the alleged theft had “yielded enough evidence to present the case to grand jury.”
Dawson’s arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. with Circuit Judge Brian Howell presiding, Laird said.
For now, Laird said, he and his client are looking at the charges and assessing Dawson’s options.
Two other council members elected along with Dawson in 2008 have faced criminal charges during the council’s current term.
Former Councilman John Spain was charged with assault in September after an altercation with Mayor Gene Robinson at a council meeting. He was convicted in October and immediately appealed the decision. In November, he was charged with abusing his authority for allegedly ordering a police officer to provide him with a document that was not a public record. Both criminal cases were dropped after Spain resigned his seat in December as part of a plea agreement.
Councilman Ben Little was arrested in December for allegedly violating the city’s property codes. That charge was dropped in April after the conditions of several homes, owned by a church where Little is pastor, were improved and the properties taken off the nuisance property list.
Staff writer Cameron Steele: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @CSteele_star.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_star.