Pickens County Coroner Chad Harless sworn in as acting Sheriff

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PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI)- Coroner Chad Harless now has two jobs in Pickens County… Sheriff and Coroner.

He knows it will be tough but says he’s ready to restore confidence in law enforcement in the county.

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Former Pickens County Sheriff David Abston resigned Friday morning, and within a few minutes, Coroner Chad Harless was sworn-in.

“This is not something that I… that anybody ever wanted of course David Abston is a friend of mine we’ve been here for many years,” said Sheriff Harless.

Rumors about Abston’s arrest and the investigation have swirled around Pickens County for at least a week. Now, Harless wants to lay them to rest.

“One of the first things that we’re going to do is call for an audit for financial records. Of course to clear the air to make sure there’s nothing, make sure the public knows there’s nothing else going on and we’re not trying to hide anything,” said Sheriff Harless.

He will serve as sheriff and coroner, for the time being, and believes this will only be a temporary arrangement.

“It’s a lot of responsibility. You’re responsible for a lot of things. Whatever happens from this point until the governor appoints someone which hopefully it won’t be that long. I know there’s a list that’s been made of potential candidates and she will scrutinize those her staff and make the best choice for Pickens County,” said Sheriff Harless.

Abston served as sheriff for 32 years. District Attorney Andy Hamlin says no matter the amount of time; no one is above the law.

“I tell my staff this all the time that no one person is bigger than the office that they serve of the people that they serve. the law-enforcement here are strong we are committed to Public Safety we are going to enforce the rule of law like we’ve always have, and nothing will change in that regard,” said Hamlin.

Sheriff Harless plans to speak with deputies and jail staff, getting back to business as usual as quickly as possible.

“We’re in good hands. I mean this is going to be a seamless transition. Again I want to reinforce to the citizens, because I know there are concerns and they are valid concerns, there is not going to be any downtime. We are business as usual, and the laws will be enforced as they always have,” said Hamlin.

We spoke several folks in Carrollton. Overall, not many people were surprised.

They also didn’t want to go on camera. The few that talked with us say it was only a matter of time.

“It’s very shocking to know that someone in his position has resigned. Allegations has always been made when it comes to law enforcement here in Pickens County it is just like this here in Pickens County,” said Derrick Wright.

“Well, really I’m not surprised I’m just not surprised. If elected official won’t abide by the rules, how do you expect the general public too,” said Robert Hall?

A judge has not set a date for Abston’s sentencing. He faces up to 23 years in prison and a possible $350,000 fine.

As of this morning, the former sheriff’s wife, Debra Abston, remained an employee of the sheriff’s department.

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