Judge orders former Prichard water board manager on house arrest

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 11:52 AM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The indicted former operations mangers of the Prichard water board will have to be on house arrest, a judge ruled Monday.

Mobile County Circuit Judge Michael Windom added the new restriction after hearing evidence that she was working in Mississippi with permission, a violation of her bond.

Nia Malika Bradley now will have to remain at her home except for court-approved exceptions.

Bradley stands accused of charging hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of personal expenses on a credit card issued by the Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board. Ashley Rich, who was district attorney at the time of the indictment, has said Bradley and other employees collectively made millions of dollars’ worth of illegal purchases on items ranging from airfare to high-end hotels and luxury goods from retailers like Gucci and Luis Vuitton.

The latest issue came about when her attorney last week sought the judge’s permission for his client to travel to north Mississippi to take a test to maintain her wastewater certification from the Mississippi Rural Water Association. Defense attorney Jason Darley said Bradley has been working for a private contractor working with public utilities in that state.

But prosecutors argued that Bradley was violating bond simply by crossing state lines to work and asked for her bond to be revoked.

“He’s not letting her travel and essentially, she’s gonna remain on house arrest where she can’t work out of state,” Darley said. “He declined to revoke her bond. So, you know, that’s the one positive here.”

Darley said the bond violation arose from a misunderstanding. Initially, Bradley had been required to wear an electronic ankle monitor. At some point, she was allowed to continue bond under a less-restrictive facial recognition system.

The defendant’s pretrial services officer testified he interpreted that loosening that restriction allowed Bradley the opportunity to work out of the county. But the judge disagreed.

“She was working for a contractor that worked with utilities, but she was not working in any financial capacity,” Darley said. “But, yeah, she’s no longer allowed to work there. … If she’s able to find – it would have to be within the county - but if she’s able to find employment within the county, then that’ something that would have to go back before Judge Windom.”

Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said if there was any misunderstanding, there should be none now.

“There was some confusion surrounding this,” he said. “That was clarified today. The judge made it very clear that she is under house arrest.”

Blackwood said he supports defendants working while they’re out on bond.

“However, you know, we would not want her to work in the same kind of field where she could victimize the same kind of people that she’s accused of already victimizing,” he said.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. with comments from District Attorney Keith Blackwood.