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ONLY ON 3: Former Chambers County Judge victim in $500,000 extortion scheme

VALLEY, Ala. (WRBL) - The wife of a former Chambers County prosecutor has been arrested again. Valley investigators say she tried to extort $500,000 from a former Chambers County District Judge, using the church her family attends as the drop site.

The latest arrest involving 62-year-old Dorothy Sledge takes us to Fairview Baptist Church in Valley. The church was the drop location where investigators say Sledge used when she threatened and tried to extort half-a-million dollars in "hush" money from former Chambers County District Judge, Joel Holley.

"You don't think something like this can happen. It's like something out of a Lifetime movie," said Major Mike Reynolds with the Valley Police Department.

The victim of the alleged extortion is former Chambers County District Judge Joel Holley, who's now a Huntsville prosecutor.

Holley tells News 3; in May, June, and July he received five letters at his Huntsville home demanding the money be left at the church in a bag or the writer would go to law enforcement alleging Holley was involved in the murder of Dwayne Story, a homicide case from several decades ago. Holley says the allegations are ridiculous and after the first letter, notified police.

Police put up cameras around the church and began leaving notes for Sledge to find in the location she determined. On Thursday, July 5th, at Fairview Baptist Church Valley police took Sledge into custody after police say she was visiting the drop site. Dorothy Sledge is charged with five counts of Attempted Extortion 1st degree.  

"We started surveying in the area where the drop was supposed to occur. During this time Ms. Dorothy Sledge was observed coming to the drop location and picking up the letters and leaving with them," said Major Reynolds.

Judge Holley says he's glad an arrest has been made as the letters terrified his wife. He believes Sledge acted out of desperation.  
      


Dorothy Sledge's husband, Roland Sledge, was fired as a longtime Chambers County Prosecutor in 2017. Roland Sledge was then charged with embezzling $16,000 from a juvenile's bank account while he acted as the conservator. Police say the couple's legal troubles continued after a fire at their Valley home.  The couple was charged with Arson in 2018 after Valley police say they set a dangerous fire at their home in 2017. Fire investigators say a propane tank was placed at the front door of the Sledge home during the fire. Thankfully, the propane tank did not explode.
 
"If that propane tank would have exploded, just about any first responder in the area would have been killed," said Reynolds.

The couple remains behind bars on their separate charges and investigators continue to work on their cases. Many in the community remain baffled by the couple's alleged crimes.

"In extraordinary times people do extraordinary things, sometimes good and sometimes bad," said Reynolds.

Valley police did not want to release pictures of the extortion letters or surveillance video from the church, saying the investigation was still ongoing. News 3 will keep you updated.

 

 


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