Tate banned from office for two years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Gloria Tate has resigned from office and the town of Harpersville has a new mayor in Wayne Moore.

According to Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens, on Tuesday, April 20, Gloria Tate (now former mayor of Harpersville) and Larry Offord (former police chief of Harpersville) entered pleas of guilty to charges that they violated the state’s ethics laws.

Owens said each defendant had to pay fines and restitution totaling $1,000 and received a sentence of two years probation.

As an additional condition of probation, neither Tate nor Offord

will be allowed to seek, hold or remain in office.

He said the ban on public office is for the length of probation.

Town Clerk Joy Robertson of Harpersville confirmed that Tate resigned April 20 and that the Town Council appointed Wayne Moore as mayor on Wednesday, April 21 in a meeting at which all council members were present.

Owens said the ethics charges facing Tate and Offord cover both felonies and misdemeanors. He said they pled to the misdemeanor version.

The sentence for the felony version would have been one to 10 years for each case, and the misdemeanor would have been one year for each case, he said.

&uot;I think (Gloria Tate’s) basically a good person who didn’t fully appreciate the nature and consequences of her actions,&uot; Owens said.

&uot;Unfortunately&uot; the case was referred to him and he had to handle it in the best way to &uot;serve the citizens of Shelby County.&uot;

Owens said of Offord, &uot;Larry had been a good police chief. I think he’s a good person as well. He just got accustomed to being able to handle traffic offenses such as DUI in an old-fashioned way.&uot;

According to Owens, in August 2003, the Alabama State Ethics Commission issued a report of investigation to the Shelby County DA’s office regarding Mayor Tate and former Police Chief Offord.

As a result, the district attorney’s office entered into an investigation culminating in these cases being presented to an October 2003 Shelby County grand jury.

&uot;The grand jury returned a two count indictment against both Tate and Offord. Each was charged with one count of mismanaging a $1,000 check made payable to the city of Harpersville and one count of improperly influencing the disposition of a DUI in the city of Harpersville.&uot;

Moore, who was appointed to complete Tate’s term as mayor, said, &uot;It’s just an unfortunate event. I was the mayor pro tem, so naturally I was selected to fill out her term. I was hoping she would be able to carry on and fill out her term, but it didn’t work out that way.&uot;

The dismissed driving under the influence charge which was tagged by the Ethics Commission as unethical and illegal involved Moore’s son.

&uot;Sure, I feel bad about it. That’s probably what got everything started,&uot; Moore said.

Stressing he had no firsthand knowledge of a meeting between the mayor, the (former) police chief and the officer involved, Moore said, &uot;I didn’t know the meeting had taken place. I had no control over that part of it.&uot;

Moore said he was unsure about seeking election as Harpersville’s next mayor this August.

&uot;I’ve just barely got my feet on the ground … I’ve got a couple of months to make that decision,&uot; he said.

Tate was unavailable for comment. She declined to comment about her situation at the Monday, April 12 Harpersville Town Council meeting, the night before she resigned. And she did not return repeated telephone calls following her resignation