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The Political Round-Up

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Under arcane Alabama law, former federal law enforcement agent David A. Evans Sr. will be appointed Friday, April 14 as a special coroner of Mobile County, enabling him to assume the duties of sheriff, a post vacated by former Sheriff Jack S. Tillman in the wake of his guilty plea to misdemeanors in connection with his operation of the sheriff's department, sources reported Thursday evening.

Evans, 68, is a former agent with the U.S. Customs Service for six-1/2 years and the U.S. Secret Service for 15 years. He switched to Customs in order to remain in Mobile after Secret Service higher-ups directed his transfer to Washington, D.C.  

Evans is expected to serve until the Republican nominee for sheriff is determined in elections this year. The GOP primary is June 6. There are five Republican candidates for sheriff and five Democratic hopefuls. Tillman held office for almost 12 years.

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis will make the appointment, similarly to his appointment of Mobile attorney Chuck Miller as a special cornoner to serve Tillman with his indictment, sources explained.

While many counties in Alabama retain the office of coroner, Mobile almost 20 years ago abolished the coroner's office in favor of a more highly qualified post of medical examiner.

Davis declined comment about the matter.

Evans asked that his comments be deferred until the appointment became official, although he generally confirmed the accuracy of the report.

Evans, however, did remark that he is neutral in the sheriff's contest this year. And he said any pay in connection with the appointment had not been discussed.

Evans and his wife Elizabeth reside near Fowl River in south Mobile County. They attend Westminster Presbyterian Church where they serve in leadership positions.

Evans is a former chairman of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee. Evans said he remaines active with the Fowl River Volunteer Fire District, still responding to fires, "too many brush fires recently."

Evans is a native of Baltimore, Md. He was raised in Atlanta, Ga.

He has a son -- David "Skip" Evans Jr., a detective sergeant in the Mobile Police Department. His daughter, Stephanie Evans Ahmed, lives in Dallas where she has been a special education teacher. Elizabeth has a son by a previous marriage, Josh Stewart, who is a Naval intelligence officer assigned to Washington D.C.

The Evans' have a daughter, Beth, who is finishing her second year at Emory University in Atlanta.

Tillman stepped down earlier this week, short of finishing his third term in office.

Tillman’s departure was the result of a plea bargain in connection with charges pending against him.

A Mobile County grand jury in April last year indicted Tillman on two counts of perjury, one count of using his office for personal gain and two counts of theft. The sheriff still awaits trial on those charges. But the matter may be put to rest soon, capping a rancorous dispute between Tillman and the office of Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr

Tillman and the district attorney’s office butted heads over the sheriff’s handling of the jail’s food fund monies and a law enforcement seminar managed by Tillman’s sister-in-law, Brenda Pate, who also worked in the sheriff’s department as an administrator.

The two counts of perjury stem from Tillman’s testimony in the trial of Ms. Pate for theft; another count is an accusation that he aided that theft; a fourth charge cites an illegal withdrawal for nearly $13,000 from the jail food fund which he placed in a personal retirement account; and the fifth count asserts an ethics violation alleging his use of office for personal gain.

A former highly successful professional boxer, Tillman was elected sheriff in 1994 after spending 16 years as a resource officer in the Mobile County Public School System.

Tillman’s announcement several weeks ago that he would not seek a fourth term as sheriff opened the floodgates for prospective successors with 10 candidates of either party announcing their campaigns for the office.

Among them, as Republicans, are Deputy Chief Mark Barlow, deputy Kyle Callaghan, former Mobile Police Chief Sam Cochran, ex-deputy and reserve officer Rick Daves, deputy Bobby Hartmann; and Democrats  former military police officer Billy Ray Stroups, businessman Matt Tew, Prichard magistrate supervisor DaVon Grey, detective Donald E. Lunceford and bondsman Clint Ulmer.

Constable Harry Bachus, a Democrat, withdrew from the race in favor of a campaign for clerk of court. Fruit stand operator and Democrat Jimmy Lowe Jr. dallied briefly with a run, entering the race late and leaving early.

The sheriff draws an annual salary of almost $111,000 and serves a four-year term.

Tillman’s 59th birthday falls on Good Friday.

Hanley on board
Experienced criminal defense attorney Neil Hanley has joined the legal team defending Gordon Waller, who recently resigned as executive director of the Alabama Safety Institute amid charges that he extorted sex from a young man by using his influence to keep the man out of jail.
Hanley will assist attorney Claude Boone in representing Waller.