A former Springfield mayor pled guilty last Wednesday to charges of perjury and false swearing.
Jeff Northway, who resigned as mayor in July 2012 after winning election in 2009, entered his plea before Judge Gates Peed in Effingham County Superior Court. Northway was sentenced to five years of probation on each count, to serve consecutively, and ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution, with $5,000 due by the end of the day.
Northway was indicted June 2014, with the charges stemming from his 2009 candidate qualifying papers and testimony he gave in a civil proceeding after city council members sought his ouster from office.
In his candidate qualification form, Northway indicated he had never been convicted and sentenced in any court. However, it was later uncovered that Northway had been convicted and sentenced in 1983 and 1988 in Harris County, Texas.
Northway was charged with perjury for his testimony during an April 2011 deposition. City council members voted to seek Northway’s removal from office in 2010. He refused to resign, and council members took the matter to superior court.
After three days of testimony in June 2011, a judge ruled in favor of the city council. Northway and his attorney appealed, and the state Supreme Court heard arguments in March 2012. The state high court justices overturned the lower court’s decision in June 2012.
But less than a month later, Northway submitted his resignation. Council members accepted his resignation in August of that year.
Council members asked Northway to resign or face a declaratory judgment petition after they learned he had been convicted of three felonies in Texas. Northway was convicted for theft by receiving and twice convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Northway’s attorney informed city council that his client intended to resign but asked to keep the reasons confidential. The city, however, said it would not sign a nondisclosure agreement about Northway’s past, since the information was available through open records requests.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, if Northway abides by the remainder of his punishment, his probation could be reduced to four years total. He had entered a plea of not guilty in July 2014.