One sheriff in Alabama is facing questions after he personally pocketed $1.5 million in funds intended to feed detainees at ICE immigration centers.
Sheriff Todd Entrekin of Etowah County, Alabama lost his re-election bid this year when news came out that he bought a beach house with $750,000 meant to feed county jail inmates. The action was legal under Alabama law which splits any surplus in state or municipal funds 50/50 between the sheriff himself and the county’s general fund. In fact, Entrekin said other sheriffs before him did the same.
“multiple Alabama state attorneys general over the past decade [have agreed] sheriffs can in fact pocket funds allocated by the state to feed inmates that are not used for that purpose.” But federal funds are likely a different story.
However, federal funds may be a different story.
The Etowah County Detention Center has a federal contract to house immigrants detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and with that comes government funding to feed the several hundred people detained by ICE in their facility.
Sheriff Entrekin treated the federal funds just like municipal or state funds and pocketed the budget surplus. The surplus was $3 million, which means Entrekin pocketed $1.5 million in funds that were originally intended to feed ICE detainees.
Randall Eliason, a George Washington University law professor, told AL.com that Entrekin’s actions are likely illegal.
“There’s pretty much no way that the federal government is okay with this,” Eliason said. “Regardless of what he argues about the Alabama law, if it comes to light that he’s taking these federal funds that are supposed to be used to feed and house federal prisoners, and instead is putting [hundreds of thousands of] dollars in his pocket, that would be of great interest to federal prosecutors.”
Entrekin’s actions are currently being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security but so far no action has been taken against the former sheriff.