One Alabama sheriff is freely acknowledging that he has been pocketing excess jailhouse food funds—you know, the money meant to feed inmates—in order to buy himself a snazzy, six-figure beach home.
According to AL.com, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife, Karen, purchased the four-bedroom home with an in-ground pool and canal access in Orange Beach, Ala., for a smooth $740,000. Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, and the property became one of several that the couple owned together or separately in the state’s Etowah and Baldwin counties. All of the properties rang up a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million.
But again, Entrekin is a sheriff, with a five-figure annual salary. So residents started to question how he could afford multiple homes, including one that cost almost three-quarters of a million bucks.
As it turns out, Entrekin readily filed ethics-disclosure forms revealing that over the past three years he pocketed some $750,000 of additional “compensation” from “food provisions.” That would be on top of his $93,178.80 annual salary as sheriff.
Those food-provisions funds were actually allocated by federal, state and municipal governments to feed inmates in the county jail.
So how could Entrekin be so barefaced about it? Well, to hear him tell the story, it’s a simple matter of law (of course it is). AL.com notes that many Alabama sheriffs believe that pocketing “excess” food funds is legal under a state law that was passed before World War II. “Yet in a number of counties including Jefferson and Montgomery, any money allocated to sheriffs for feeding inmates that is not used for that purpose is instead turned over to the county government,” AL.com reports.
“In regards to feeding of inmates, we utilize a registered dietitian to ensure adequate meals are provided daily,” Entrekin told the news site. “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 reported on forms filed to the Alabama Ethics Commission that he made “more than $250,000” each of the past three years in this manner. Executive Director of the Ethics Commission Tom Albritton noted that the state does not mandate that public officials disclose exactly how much income they receive from one source beyond the $250,000 threshold, which he described as being “specifically set in the statute.”