Now former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was found guilty Friday on 12 counts of violating state ethics law and using his office seat for personal gain. Hubbard was acquitted on the other 11 counts, but his conviction automatically removes him from office.

Alabama Sen. Gerald Allen said he was sad to hear of his longtime friend’s conviction. Allen and Hubbard served together in the House of Representatives.

“He was my seat mate for 12 years and a dear friend,” Allen said. “I know him and his family well, and it’s heartbreaking to see this develop and take place.”

Prosecutors argued Hubbard used the power of his office to illegally benefit his companies and clients, including millions of dollars in investments, while Hubbard maintained his innocence as the lone defense witness.

Hubbard said during the trial that his transactions were legal and within the bounds of the very ethics law he helped pass back in 2010.

The former House Speaker now faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $30,000 for each count.

Allen said he’s praying Hubbard and his family but also said the outcome of this case shows that no one is above the law.

“Regardless of who you may be, school board member all the way up to the White House, we all must be accountable and must be responsible to the rule of law,” Allen said.

Despite the charges, Montgomery will be losing a leader; Allen said. Hubbard had great communication skills and helped develop some of powerful pieces of legislation, including education reform.

Gov. Robert Bentley issued a statement following the verdict, saying in part, “as leaders we were placed here to serve our people and that is exactly what we are going to continue to do.”

Hubbard’s attorney David McKnight said he felt like he “let his client down,” adding that Hubbard was disappointed and surprised by the outcome. His sentencing is scheduled for July 8. McKnight said they will appeal the court’s decision.

So what does the future hold for the newly vacant seat? State Rep. Pro Tem Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, will serve as agency head to handle administrative activities until lawmakers are called into session and elect a new house speaker. Gaston will also handle the election for the next Speaker of the House. Allen said expects a few candidates to put their name in the running.

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