Last week, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin held one of the most embarrassing press conferences in the history of Alabama. And that’s saying a lot. The sheriff tried pretty unsuccessfully to convince folks he just couldn’t help but pocket around $750,000 in taxpayer money.
“It’s the law. I haven’t done anything wrong,” Entrekin said. “If I’ve done something wrong, they need to change the law.”
Of course, the “Beach House Sheriff” has come under fire recently for pocketing all of this money over the past three years from his leftover jail food fund. He then bought a swank $740,000 beach house in Orange Beach on a relatively modest annual salary, while some advocacy groups say he is practically starving the inmates in his jail.
Entrekin provided all kinds of documents to the media gathered at the press conference, though he did not provide the ones he was specifically asked for — the records for his jail food fund.
Entrekin took a page out of the president’s playbook and wailed this was “fake news” and how he and his family had been unfairly attacked.
“There are so many falsehoods, half-truths and unfair allegations that have been reported in the press,” he said.
Unfortunately for him, the parts of this he considered “fake news” and tried to counter in his sad little press conference were not what most tax-paying Alabamians care about.
He was extremely offended that people thought he and his wife wouldn’t be able to afford a beach house on their own salaries. He said his wife was very successful, made more money than him and they could have gotten their beach house mortgage without the food fund money. Maybe this is true, but no one cares about this.
He also took issue with human rights groups and former inmates who said he is starving them. He said the menu is created by a registered dietician and though the prisoners may not be happy with the selections, they are not starving.
“This is a jail, this is not a bed and breakfast, Domino’s does not deliver here . We don’t run to McDonald’s and get these prisoners and detainees Big Macs. We do not serve cake on their birthday. But we do prepare a healthy meal that is served here three times a day,” Entrekin said. “It is true that many of our people are not happy with the food they are served.”
A lot of people may agree with you here, sheriff, as folks don’t care much about inmates, but this is still not the main issue everyone is absolutely livid over — the one you don’t dispute.
You took $750,000 of taxpayer money and put it in your pocket!!!!!!
Money that could have gone to road and bridge or park improvements in your county, raises for county employees, a festival or just about anything else that would have benefitted ALL the taxpayers of Etowah County instead of your own, fat self.
Sadly, you are absolutely correct this is the law. And you are not the only Alabama sheriff enriching yourself under this very antiquated code. But my God, don’t come out and try to defend the indefensible. This has to be one of the most egregious laws on the books in the history of the state of Alabama. And again, that’s saying a lot.
Entrekin even admitted the “optics” were bad when a reporter from CBS news (yes, the national news — yay! #soembarassing) asked him if he thought this looked bad. But what is he supposed to do, he insincerely lamented.
An honest public servant would have donated it to charity or put it in a fund for raises or improvements to the jail or courthouse or any number of things that did not include stuffing it his own deep pockets.
And what’s even more sickening is that he is not alone in this. Forty-eight other Alabama sheriffs (the majority of the state) refuse to turn their jail food fund records over.
Why has the Alabama State Legislature allowed this to remain on the books and not passed a statewide bill? They obviously know it’s an issue.
We had our own little problem with this a decade or so ago with Sheriff Jack Tillman, but we addressed it. Counties like Mobile, Montgomery and Jefferson all passed local bills transferring this responsibility to the county government, and I’m pretty sure none of the commissioners started paying themselves handsome “performance bonuses,” as Entrekin equated it to (barf), with the leftover funds.
Locally, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack is one of those who won’t turn over his jail food fund records, so we’re not really sure — yet — what’s happening there.
I realize it’s probably too late for our legislators to do anything about this statewide this session, but if this isn’t THE top priority for the next one, then this thing stinks to high heaven. I can’t think of a more jacked-up situation in this state (and there are lots of them) that make voters’ blood boil more than this one right now.
I mean, hell, legislators, y’all are constantly raiding funds that you really shouldn’t be (like our BP money) in order to pay for Medicaid and other things and y’all are totally fine with this guy and his other sheriff buddies in the other 48 Alabama counties just pocketing this money too? I’m stunned y’all haven’t tried to get your grubby hands on it already.
If you don’t address this, the question is going to be WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS? Lobbyists? Campaign donations? What?
This will no doubt be a big issue in the upcoming election, as it should be.
It’s time to end this insanity before we allow the creation of “Hunting Camp Sheriff,” “Maserati Sheriff,” and “Yacht Sheriff” to join “Beach House Sheriff.”
That is, if we haven’t already.