Alabama sheriff took $750,000 from inmates’ food fund to buy personal beach house
A sheriff in Alabama is in some trouble today for taking $750,000 meant for jail inmates’ food budget and instead purchasing a $740,000 beach house for himself. Here’s a cool tidbit, though: it was also legal.
The Birmingham News reports that Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife Karen from Etowah County were under suspicion from the town’s residents. Curious how his family could afford multiple six-figure homes — one costing three-quarters of a million dollars — on his 5-figure annual salary. The Entrekins’ estates total up to $1.7 million, owning three properties together and separately.
Ethics disclosure forms were reportedly filed with the state and revealed that he had been “compensated” more than $750,000 over the past 3 years. The source of the funds was identified as “Food Provisions.”
The money was specifically allocated by the federal, state, and municipal governments to feed the Etowah County jail inmates. But it appears that none of it was used for that purpose, and was solely pocketed by the sheriff.
When Entrekin was asked about the $750,000, he did not deny that he received the money. In fact, it appears that he uses the entirety of the fund as his personal account, according to AL.
One country resident, Matthew Qualls, even says that he was hired by Entrekin in 2015 for his mowing services and was paid by check. It reportedly read, “Sheriff Todd Entrekin Food Provision Account.” Qualls took a photograph of the check.
Records show that Entrekin had not accounted for the income or the source on any previously filed year.
How It’s Legal
The state’s Depression-era law, as described by WBUR, allows sheriffs to pocket and save any unspent monies from its jailhouse food provision funds. The excess funds are accounted for as “personal income.” However, should their jails run short on money, they are personally held responsible for making up the difference.
Without the funds, Entrekin makes a little over $93,000 per year.
In a statement to NPR, it’s apparent that Entrekin is dissatisfied with the media’s coverage of this story. He insisted that the “liberal media has began attacking me for following the letter of the law.”
“The Food Bill is a controversial issue that’s used every election cycle to attack the Sheriff’s Office,” Entrekin continued. “Alabama Law is clear regarding my personal financial responsibilities of feeding inmates. Until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”
Prior to Entrekin being appointed Sheriff, he promised his community that he would take the responsibility of feeding inmates out of the hands of the sheriff. However, according to Gadsdentimes, his mind quickly changed after meeting with the County Commissioner following his appointment. He had been indebted with over $150,000 by his predecessor who had suddenly died and had to take out a loan to replenish the funds.
Entrekin eventually reduced the debt to $35,000, but with the increased amount of food, he said that his debt to the state was more than he had to initially borrow. He was not a fan of the process. This was back in 2010. He’s clearly a fan now.
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