Alabama Sheriff Used Inmate Food Funds for Beach House — And It’s Legal

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GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama sheriff legally used more than $750,000 of funds meant to feed inmates to purchase a beach house.

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin told The Birmingham News he follows a state law passed before World War II that allows sheriffs to keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves. In certain counties like Jefferson and Montgomery, any excess money is supposed to be given to the county government, according to Fox News.

The sheriff felt pretty comfortable that he wasn’t breaking any laws. Telling AL.com in an 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.”

Interestingly, a 20-year-old man was arrested after an “anonymous tip” was sent to police about a marijuana odor coming from his apartment. Matthew Qualls was hired to mow Entrekin’s lawn and noticed the sheriff was receiving checks from a food provision account. He spoke out to a local newspaper and shared, “I saw that in the corner of the checks it said ‘Food Provision,’ and a couple people I knew came through the jail, and they say they got meat maybe once a month and every other day it was just beans and vegetables.”

Days later, he was arrested.

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

The sheriff’s annual salary is more than $93,000. He and his wife purchased a four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in September for $740,000.

Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that the couple own together or separately.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

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