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Attorney for Gulf Shores man indicted with former Clarke County sheriff says charges based on ‘technicalities’

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - An attorney for a Gulf Shores man indicted along with former Clarke County Sheriff Ray Norris said Friday that allegations against his client are based on “technicalities.”

Danny Lee Beard Sr. faces two counts of providing false statements and one count of defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

The same indictment charges Ray Norris with making false statements in a series of applications for loans that he used to pay off gambling debts, a boat loan, an overdue account and other personal expenses.

Dennis Knizley, who represents Beard, said he has not yet received all of the evidence federal investigators have collected.

“But based on what we’ve seen in the indictment thus far, it sounds more like technicalities they’re talking about,” he told FOX10 News.

One of the counts in the indictment alleges that Beard offered two pieces of construction equipment as collateral for a loan of more than $51,000 in 2020 but that he did not actually own the 2011 JD 437D Loader and that he was in the process of selling a 2000 Freightliner.

Knizley said in certain instances, his client may not have yet acquired title to an asset he offered for collateral but that there was no intent to deceive the bank.

“This is a long-term banking relationship he’s had with these people. … There’s no material misrepresentation in any way or any harm or any risk that the bank would have as to the security interest,” he said.

Beard faces another charge in relation to a $75,000 loan he co-signed with Norris; prosecutors allege $25,000 of it went to payments on existing loans the same bank made to Norris and his wife.

“You understand, we are the co-signer on that loan,” he said. “We are not the principal person borrowing the money.”

The third charge against Beard accuses him of obtaining a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress created in 2020 to help businesses continue to pay their workers during COVID-19 lockdowns. Those loans, under certain conditions, could be converted into grants.

The indictment alleges that Beard’s company had not reported wages since the first quarter of 2019.

Knizley suggested that charge will hinge on whether workers were classified as employees on the payroll or contractors who were doing work for the company.

“Interestingly, the first one (loan), they have forgiven that,” he said. “So apparently, they didn’t have very much concern. The second one there was no forgiveness, and we’re paying it back now.”

The grand jury handed up the indictment on the same day that a state court judge threw out charges against Norris on grounds that he had a good-faith belief that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office agreed not to prosecute him as long as he resigned. The Attorney General’s Office denies that it ever made that offer and has asked a state appeals court to reinstate the charges.

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