Todd Entrekin makes just under $95,000 a year as the sheriff of Alabama's Etowah County, but somehow he and his wife Karen (an ex-probation officer) have $1.7 million in property spread over two counties. AL.com reports that how he paid for all of this is now being called into question due to some ethics disclosure paperwork he recently filed with the state, in which he noted he has received more than $750,000 in "compensation" over the past three years from a "Food Provisions" account—namely, funds offered by federal, state, and municipal governments to feed prisoners in the Etowah County Jail. And Entrekin says it's completely legal, based on an antiquated state law passed before World War II that apparently allows sheriffs to keep "excess" funds meant to feed prisoners. AL.com says the state law is "likely" being exploited by other Alabama sheriffs as well.
However, other counties that end up with a surplus give the money to the county government so it can be put to use elsewhere instead of lining the sheriffs' pockets. "I believe the funds belong to the taxpayers and any excess funds should go toward things that benefit the taxpayer," the police chief of Rainbow City, who used to work under the former Etowah County sheriff, says. "There's been a tremendous amount of money left over that shouldn't be used as a bonus check." Two advocacy groups filed suit in January against 49 Alabama sheriffs who won't show financials around their prison feeding programs. In Etowah County's case, AL.com is also probing county contracts awarded to companies that have donated to Entrekin campaigns. Meanwhile, Entrekin says he's "getting beat up" for sticking to the law and that attacks against him are "politically motivated," the Gadsden Times reports. (Read more Alabama stories.)