Alabama Governor Bans Sheriffs From Pocketing Prisoners Meal Funds

by Kim Boateng Posted on July 11th, 2018

Montgomery, Alabama, USA: On Tuesday Governor Kay Ivey (R) banned the use of jail food funds by sheriffs to line their pockets, ordering that the money no longer go to “sheriffs personally.” Instead any excess will go to a county general fund or an account established for the sheriff’s official use.

“Public funds should be used for public purposes,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement. “It’s that simple.”

Previously sheriffs could keep for themselves any excess money after they had paid for prisoners’ meals. Governor Kay Ivey said she wants to stop that and is urging lawmakers to pass legislation clarifying that sheriffs can’t keep the extra jail food money.

“I have changed the way these funds are handled because it is the right thing to do. The law is clear, the attorney general’s opinion is clear, and now I have been clear,” Ivey said. “I urge the Legislature to follow my lead and codify this policy into law during the next regular session.”

A practice begun in the Depression was upheld in 2008 in a ruling by then-Attorney General Troy King, who said a “sheriff may retain any surplus from the food service allowance as personal income,” noting that “most of the sheriffs in the state have retained the food service allowances for personal income for years.”

In 2011, another attorney general, Luther Strange, contradicted King’s opinion, ruling that “neither the sheriff nor the county may use the surplus for any purpose other than future expenses in feeding prisoners.” Ivey’s office this week rescinded the 2008 policy, and said the state should instead follow Strange’s opinion.

Critics said the practice had incentivized abuse of prisoners.

Nigeria Circle News (NCN) earlier reported onTodd Entrekin, a sheriff in Alabama’s Etowah County.

Sheriff Todd Entrekin lost his re-election campaign during the Republican primary in June.

Voters in Alabama lost their appetite for a sheriff who personally profited off hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to buy food for inmates at the Etowah County Jail.

In 2009 a federal judge held Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett in contempt of court for failing to feed inmates properly. He made $212,000 over three years in excess food funds.

At the time, the sheriff had retained more than $200,000, while the breakfast that Morgan County was serving to prisoners was sometimes no more than a slice of toast, part of an egg and several spoonfuls of grits. At one point, prisoners were fed corn dogs at every meal for about three months, after two area sheriffs had bought a truckload of sausages at a bargain price.

EARLIER: Sheriff Todd Entrekin Used $750K Meant For Feeding Prisoners To Buy A Beach House

Etowah County, Alabama Sheriff Todd Entrekin pocketed $750000 in jail food funds and purchased a four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach for $740,000 in September. Entrekin said it is legal because he follows a state law passed before World War II that allows sheriffs to keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves.

Entrekin reported on state ethics forms that he made “more than $250,000” each of the past three years through the funds which he disclosed as “Food Provisions.”.

To finance the purchase, Entrekin also got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, according to public real estate records. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that Todd Entrekin and his wife, Karen Entrekin own together or separately in Etowah and Baldwin counties.

The $740,000 Orange Beach home is the most expensive of their properties, but they also own a second single-family house in Orange Beach that was assessed at $200,900 in October 2016, according to Baldwin County real estate records.

In Etowah County, Entrekin is identified in county real estate records as the sole owner of one property in Gadsden and another in Hokes Bluff. He and his wife are listed as jointly owning a handful of other properties in Gadsden, where Karen Entrekin is listed as the sole owner of one more property.

The total assessed value of their Etowah County real estate holdings is more than $990,000, according to county records.

In April 2017, Todd Entrekin stated in his annual filing with the Alabama Ethics Commission that he owned two Orange Beach properties worth between $150,000 and $250,000 and two more in Etowah County.

He classified all four properties as “real estate for investment or revenue production,” and stated that each brought in less than $10,000 in 2016. He wrote on the form that his investment property in Rainbow City was worth between $150,000 and $250,000, and that the one he owned in Hokes Bluff was worth between $100,000 and $150,000.

Entrekin has admitted that he has a personal account that he refers to as his “Food Provision” fund. The money in the account was allocated by federal, state and municipal governments to feed inmates in the Etowah County jail, but was not used for that purpose and was instead personally pocketed by Entrekin.

He has even defended his looting of prisoner’s food money in a email:

“In regards to feeding of inmates, we utilize a registered dietitian to ensure adequate meals are provided daily. As you should be aware, Alabama law is clear as to my personal financial responsibilities in the feeding of inmates. Regardless of one’s opinion of this statute, until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.” Entrekin said via email.

Tom Albritton, executive director of the ethics commission, said via email that the state does not require public officials to disclose exactly how much more income they received from a single source beyond the $250,000 threshold, which he said is “specifically set in the statute.”

Meanwhile, Entrekin’s annual salary as sheriff is $93,178.80, according to Jeff Little, human resources director for the Etowah County Commission.

A 20-year-old man, Matthew Qualls, was arrested last week on six charges including drug trafficking four days after publicly criticizing Etowah County sheriff Entrekin.

Matthew Qualls questioned why Entrekin paid him to mow the lawn at his personal home in 2015 using taxpayer funds allocated for the feeding of inmates in the county jail. Entrekin has confirmed that he personally pocketed some of the funds.

As of Tuesday morning, Qualls was being held on $55,000 bail in the Etowah County jail, which Entrekin oversees. Qualls had not been arrested before, according to state records.

collins nyabwa @H_Town_74: #BREAKING:Folks what happened to good old country Alabama? First #RoyMoore and now this. This is what happens in #GOP-Monopoly Southern States. VOTE THEM OUT IN #Midterms2018!! #TheResistance #Alabama #ToddEntrekin #CNN #MSNBC #FoxNews #bbcnews

Antonio Austin @AntonioAustinTX: How many #homeless and #poor in #EtowahCounty #Alabama could have been helped w/ #money Sheriff #ToddEntrekin took?

Paul M @paulmccannjr: Special place in hell for #toddEntrekin

UCSB87 @UCSB87: I’d bet inmates were fed marginal foods, loaded w/#carbs, r/t fresh fruits/veggies w/the $250K/yr #ToddEntrekin snagged to buy multiple homes, @POTUS . Those funds could’ve paid for #college tuition for fams of those who sacrificed their lives in service.

#MedicareForAll @lotta_niko: This man should go to prison for many years and have all assets seized. Criminal.
#Etowah #toddentrekin

Darth Continent @DarthContinent: Wow #Alabama, maybe this kind of thing is part of why y’all are dumb AND poor! #ThursdayThoughts

18USC242 @18USC241: I guess the @EtowahDAOffice is too busy hitting the meth pipe to reign in it’s psychotic male Sheriffs #ToddEntrekin and judges #RoyMoore. Birthplace of Klansman elf #JeffSessions #Alabama living. #AMDG

Felice Physioc @felicephysioc: $2/day spent on food for state inmates, for city/federal can be higher, and if sheriffs feed inmates for less than that they can keep what’s left over — which amounted to a $750,000 beach house for Alabama Sheriff #toddentrekin

EgyptianSteven @egyptiansteven: he’s probably a hardcore liberal, mooching off the state coffers, stealing tax dollars from hard working americans. a veritable welfare queen. oh no wait. he’s a republican. he is the @GOP hypocrisy in constant motion. #ToddEntrekin

Neely Jo Manson @staythefhome: How to become a millionaire making 93k/yr. #toddentrekin #draintheswamp

Brooke Willis @bsw65: Hey a***ole, just because it’s LEGAL doesn’t make it ETHICAL, you embezzling POS. #Alabama #EtowahCounty #ToddEntrekin #stealingfromprisoners

darsky: Crusader for Justice @darsky: How can Sheriff #ToddEntrekin’s actions be even remotely legal, @GovernorKayIvey @AGSteveMarshall?
Has the Alabama #GOP become so corrupt that they’re proudly stealing hundreds of thounands of $ from the American people? #VoteJonathonHorton #EtowahCounty

Dex Farkin @dexfarkin: He has also charged the man who outed him for a life sentence’s worth of drug charges for a baggie of weed.

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