Charges to be dropped against newspaper publisher, lawyer


BLUE RIDGE, Ga. (AP) — A north Georgia newspaper publisher and his attorney who were jailed in an open records dispute won’t be prosecuted.

Multiple news outlets report Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee filed a motion Thursday to dismiss charges against Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason and attorney Russell Stookey.

The two were indicted June 24 on identity theft and attempt to commit identity theft charges stemming from subpoenas they issued. The indictment also accused Thomason of making a false statement in an Open Records Act request he had filed.

The charges drew condemnation from journalism organizations and garnered national attention.

The case stems from a legal battle with a court reporter over the release of an audio recording and the payment of the court reporter’s legal bills from a judge’s operating account.

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