By Michelle Taylor

VALDOSTA -- The suspended district attorney of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit pleaded guilty to one of the five counts against him Tuesday afternoon.

Robert B. "Bob" Ellis pleaded guilty to making a false statement, a press release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia said.

According to Maxwell Wood, U.S. attorney, Ellis pleaded guilty before Judge Hugh Lawson in the U.S. District Court in Valdosta. An agreement was made that since Ellis pleaded guilty to the one count, the others would be dismissed.

Wood said the soonest Ellis would be sentenced would be 60 days, at the time it would take a judge to begin the presentencing.

The maximum sentence for Ellis would be five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but Ellis' deal with Wood's office includes a maximum sentence of only three years of prison time.

Wood said the fine could stay as it is, because no limit was discussed.

"Do note though, a judge could throw out the deal and sentence to maximum," Wood said.

Ellis, who has served as DA since 1989, was indicted on three charges of civil rights violations, one of witness tampering and one of false statements, and pleaded not guilty in Albany April 19.

Ellis is represented by Valdosta attorney J. Converse Bright in conjunction with former Attorney General Michael Bowers and former DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan.

Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Homerville attorney Charles Joseph "Jody" Steedley as interim district attorney of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit in June.

Steedley, a Republican, will face Democrat Cathy Harris Helms in the Nov. 2 general election.

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