Alabama Lawmaker Who Controversially Attended KKK Leader's Birthday Is Accused of Theft
His attorney denied the accusations to other reporters: "I don't think any money was taken by anyone"
An Alabama state lawmaker who was widely criticized last month for attending a birthday celebration for a Confederate general-turned-Ku Klux Klan leader has now been accused of felony theft, PEOPLE confirms.
A warrant was taken out for Rep. Will Dismukes on Thursday on a charge of first-degree theft of property, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey.
Dismukes, 30, turned himself into authorities the same evening and was later released on bond, according to local TV station WSFA.
Dismukes is accused of stealing money from his former employer, Weiss Commercial Flooring Inc., sometime between 2016 and 2018, according to prosecutors. He was a project manager there, Fox News reported.
While the charge against Dismukes means he's accused of stealing more than $2,500, the district attorney told reporters last week "the alleged amount is a lot more than that."
Bailey, the prosecutor, said Thursday that the complaining company came forward in May. He said he could not provide further information on the investigation.
Dismukes' attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE but denied the accusations to other reporters.
“I don’t think any money was taken by anyone,” Trey Norman said, according to WSFA. “Second of all, if I worked for someone and they accused me of taking money, I wouldn’t expect four years to go by before anyone said anything to me. If someone worked for me and I thought they were taking money, I wouldn’t wait four years.”
Norman said Dismukes never received a written notice from his employer accusing him of stealing from the company.
The lawmaker was widely criticized in late July for posting a photo of himself celebrating the birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest on the same day civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who died in July, was being honored in Alabama.
In a Facebook post at the time, Dismukes reportedly wrote: “Had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest annual birthday celebration. Always a great time and some sure enough good eating!!”
Forrest served in the Confederate Army and went on to become the KKK's first grand wizard in the late 1800s.
“To be 100 percent honest with you, when I made the post I wasn’t even thinking about that connection. “You know, hey, that’s on me. That wasn’t even running through my mind,” Dismukes later told WSFA, which described him as an " an advocate for Confederate preservation."
"There were two things that weren’t running through my mind and that’s — one: the passing of Rep. John Lewis; and the next is Nathan Bedford Forrest’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan,” Dismukes told the station.
Following his arrest, the state's political parties criticized him, with Democrats linking Dismukes to other conservatives.
“It’s just another embarrassment for the state of Alabama — another corrupt Republican, who in this case is also a racist," Wade Perry, the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, told PEOPLE on Monday, adding that Dismukes "needs to resign, hands down.”
“He should resign because he’s a racist confederate apologist who’s stuck in 1865 and it’s an embarrassment to the state of Alabama in 2020," Perry says.
Gov. Kay Ivey told WSFA that "it is disappointing when a public official, elected with the confidence of the people, abuses that trust" and that "no one" is above the law.
Terry Lathan, the chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party, tweeted out similar disappointment.
"We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation," Lathan wrote. "No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course."