• 73°
franklin county times

Pilati returns to Russellville 'optimistic'

By Staff
Jason Houston FCT Managing Editor
Former Franklin County District Attorney John Pilati returned home to Russellville Monday, saying he is optimistic about his future and has a newfound awareness of those on the receiving end of the justice system.
Pilati completed a six-month sentence served at a federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. He was sentenced in federal court last August after pleading guilty to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents.
Federal investigators, along with investigators from the Alabama Attorney General's office, began an investigation in September 2003 focusing on Pilati. The investigation centered on allegations of extortion in his handling of several cases involving drug crimes. Pilati was not charged with extortion, and it has not been alleged that Pilati received any improper personal gain or benefit through his office.
Pilati served as District Attorney for more than five years after his election in 1998. While holding public office, Pilati was also known for his community service. He was the first Franklin County resident to volunteer for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in 1994, and will soon begin his 13th year as a Little League baseball coach in Russellville. He also will resume teaching his youth Sunday School class at First Baptist Church, a position he has held for 11 years.
Pilati continued his community service last year even after resigning from office, coaching the Russellville 9-10 year-old baseball all-star team all the way to the state tournament in Mobile. He also handled his annual role as master of ceremonies at the Franklin County Watermelon Festival.
Lisa Stockton, director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes Pilati "picks up right where he left off" in his public service.
After a seven-month investigation, Pilati was charged with an offense at the end of March, 2004, one day before the qualifying period for Alabama primary elections ended. Pilati had already qualified for re-election. Republican Lee Osborn qualified for the race the week Pilati was charged. Osborn eventually received an interim appointment from Gov. Bob Riley to fill the position, before falling in November's general election to Joey Rushing, Pilati's former assistant district attorney.
Pilati declined Monday to discuss the specifics of his case, saying that "facts and inaccuracies about my case have repeatedly appeared in the news, to the point that most folks are probably tired of hearing about it."
He did say that he believed the investigation was politically motivated, and that he did a "poor job of responding to the investigation" while it was ongoing. He also identified Franklin County Circuit Judge Sharon Hester as playing a role in the process.
When contacted by the FCT Tuesday, Hester declined to comment on Pilati's statements.
Pilati remains suspended from practicing law, although he plans to work part-time for a local law firm in some capacity.
His other immediate plans are to serve as station manager for WGOL-AM 920 in Russellville, beginning in May. His father, Karl, is in the final stages of purchasing the station from owner Ron Underwood.
Pilati served for 9 years as a volunteer radio, television, and public address announcer for the Russellville Golden Tigers football teams, before being removed from the job last spring by Russellville School Superintendent Wayne Ray. Pilati, who also holds a degree in journalism from the University of Texas, said he hopes his radio experience will be an asset for him in his new venture. He said he is ready to move past his recent difficulties and focus on his new job.
While serving as district attorney, Pilati was known as an aggressive prosecutor with an excellent courtroom record. He frequently assisted area law enforcement agencies, including providing funds to purchase and train "Player," the city of Russellville's drug detection dog.
Pilati was easily one of Franklin County's most visible elected officials.
While at Maxwell, Pilati worked on the base at a publishing company, earning $16 per month. He said he spent most of his free time exercising, reading and writing letters to friends and family.
Pilati is also coming home as a thinner person, having lost more than 50 lbs. while at Maxwell.

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

News

Russellville High School varsity cheerleaders attend UCA cheer camp

Franklin County

NWSCC receives $18,000 in grants from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

News

Russellville equine therapy visits library program

News

Steam locomotive delivery to Red Bay delayed, arrives July 1

News

Local author holds book signing at RPL

Franklin County

Former Russellville resident performs ‘Miracle Worker’

News

Presenting: Miss Phil Campbell

Franklin County

All American Tang Soo Do students recognized

News

Russellville High School students sign to pursue fine arts careers

Franklin County

Football Funday, special needs probowl take place June 15

Galleries

PHOTOS: RMS students take the stage for spring sing

News

Russellville member named among finalists for GFWC Jennie Award

East Franklin

East Franklin Junior High celebrates May 21 graduation

Belgreen

Belgreen Class of 2024 celebrates graduation

Franklin County

Local churches plan Vacation Bible School programs

Galleries

PHOTOS: Tharptown High School Wildcats graduate

Galleries

PHOTOS: Phil Campbell High School students graduate

Franklin County

NEMCC announces more than 400 to spring vice president’s list

Franklin County

UNA releases spring dean’s, president’s lists

News

Roxy holds June 15 concert, plans other events

Franklin County

Free summer meal program available at Franklin County Schools

News

PHOTOS: Red Bay High School graduates celebrate

x