Charges to be dropped against newspaper publisher

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BLUE RIDGE, Georgia (AP) – A north Georgia newspaper publisher and his attorney who were jailed in an open records dispute won’t be prosecuted.

Multiple news outlets report Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee filed a motion Thursday to dismiss charges against Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason and attorney Russell Stookey.

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The two were indicted June 24 on identity theft and attempt to commit identity theft charges stemming from subpoenas they issued. The indictment also accused Thomason of making a false statement in an Open Records Act request he had filed.

The charges drew condemnation from journalism organizations and garnered national attention.

The case stems from a legal battle with a court reporter over the release of an audio recording and the payment of the court reporter’s legal bills from a judge’s operating account.