ABBEVILLE, Alabama — Judy Morehead, former president and CEO of the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, has been sentenced to five years in prison after she pleaded guilty in February to a single felony count of securities fraud in Alabama's 20th Judicial Circuit Court.
Morehead has applied for probation, with a hearing set for sometime in the next several weeks, according to her attorney, Dustin Fowler. At that hearing, all or part Morehead's sentence handed down Wednesday could be transferred to probation, Fowler said.
Morehead's sentencing came as part of a plea agreement in which other charges against her were dropped, according to Fowler. In addition, Fowler said the plea agreement included dropping of all charges against her husband, Stanley Morehead, and her son, Benjamin Morehead.
According to the Alabama Securities Commission, the three were indicted by a Henry County, Alabama, grand jury in March 2017 "for accepting approximately $300,000 of investors' funds and then knowingly using the funds to pay personal debts, personal loans, and expenses unrelated to investments." Specifically, Judy Morehead was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, two counts of securities fraud, an additional fraud charge, and one count of sale of securities by an unregistered agent.
Morehead resigned from the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce in June 2017, about a month after turning herself in to Alabama authorities and being released from the Henry County Jail on $40,000 bond. She had been president and CEO of the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for almost two years prior to her resignation.
According to a news release from Alabama Securities Commission, Judy Morehead told an 84-year-old woman that the woman's $250,000 trust funds "had been invested in arms-length commercial transactions," while in reality "Judy Morehead orchestrated the use of the $250,000 trust funds to pay Judy Morehead's personal mortgage loans and debts."
Also according to the commission, Morehead used money from a couple who believed they were investing in real estate to pay personal expenses, although she repaid the money after indictments were issued in the case.
In Alabama, securities fraud is punishable by two years to 20 years in prison, with a fine up to $30,000.