Use of UA Athletic Department stationary gets employee in trouble
By David Atchison 08-20-2008 PELL CITY — A University of Alabama employee faces disciplinary action after using Athletic Department stationary to recommend clemency for a man convicted of smuggling drugs into a state prison.
Doug Walker, associate athletic director for media relations with the University of Alabama athletic program, said the employee admitted writing the letter, using Athletic Department stationary.
Glenda Edwards, the administrative assistant to Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, wrote a one page letter to St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Charles Robinson, using the Crimson Tide football stationary.
In her letter, Edwards asks Robinson for clemency in his sentencing of Tommie Borden, 34, of Gadsden, a former state correctional officer who worked at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville.
“I am convinced that the fact that Tommy and his family find themselves in this unfortunate position is a true anomaly,” Edwards wrote. “Therefore, I respectfully and humbly request that you consider probation during the sentencing phase of this judicial process.”
Borden and former prison guard Mark Clark, 27, of Anniston were found guilty in June of second-degree promoting prison contraband. The correctional officers smuggled a small amount of marijuana into the prison.
Prosecutors said their case was not about the small amount of marijuana smuggled into the prison, but about the betrayal of the public’s trust by officers who were sworn to uphold the laws of the state.
A probation and sentencing hearing was held at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Ashville Monday, when the letter from the University of Alabama Athletic Department first surfaced.
The letter was apparently faxed to the judge with an Alabama Crimson Tide fax cover page and included a copy of Edwards’ business card.
“I have known Tommy Borden for many years,” Edwards wrote.
Defense attorneys for Borden and Clark also asked the judge, who is a University of Alabama alumni, for clemency at the hearings, but the judge told everyone in court Monday his responsibility was to the people of St. Clair County.
Robinson denied probation for both defendants and sentenced them to five-year split sentences, where each man will serve two years in prison and the remainder of their prison terms on probation.
Walker said Edwards is an excellent employee who has worked with the Athletic Department for more than 15 years.
“She simply made an error in judgment by using official letter head,” Walker said.
Walker would not comment about Edwards’ disciplinary action but said the matter is being handled internally.
In court Monday, Robinson gave Borden and Clark two weeks to get their personal matters in order before reporting to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department to start serving their prison sentences on Sept. 2.
Walker said Tuesday Edwards was not available for comment.