The former Mayor of River Falls Alabama pled guilty to charges that she stole over $200,000 from River Falls. Mary Ella Hixon, 91, paid hush money to multiple individuals over her thirty year career as Mayor to keep her embezzlement scheme secret.
Earlier last week Hixon resigned from her post after accepting the charges. She was originally sentenced to 10 years in prison for her crimes, but Judge Ashley McKathan reduced the sentence to only 5 years on probation because of Hixon’s age.
A spokesperson for the Covington County District Attorney said that if it weren’t for Hixon’s age, she would have probably been incarcerated for much longer.
Although Judge McKathan did not send the disgraced mayor to prison, he did order that she pay back all the money taken in her years as mayor. The judge required that her estate be held responsible for repaying $201,610 to River Falls even after Hixon passes away.
Hixon’s attorney explained to reporters that many factors led to her decisions to transfer public funds to her relatives and Richard Moss, a man she lived with. Her attorney said that she was being taken advantage of by people she trusted.
The investigation began when the city sold property to Richard Moss, who was living with Hixon at the time and has been arrested for similar charges. Later, Hixon was caught on an audio recording admitting to the illegal activity and bribing a witness with $525 to keep quiet.
Although Hixon resigned from her post after receiving these charges, she had served as one of the longest terms as mayor in Alabama history. In fact, prior to her arrest Hixon was re-elected in August earlier this year to serve another term.