An Alabama sheriff has personally pocketed more than $1.5 million in federal funds intended to provide food and shelter to undocumented immigrants housed in a detention center he runs, according to a new report from AL.com.
The newspaper, citing public records and interviews with county officials, reported that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin acknowledged last March that he kept more than $750,000 in unspent food money at the Etowah County Detention Center between January 2015 and December 2017.
But records obtained by AL.com show that he actually took in twice that amount.
According to a review of the documents, the newspaper found that beginning in October 2011, the surplus for feeding inmates for the following three years was $3 million.
Entrekin personally pocketed half of that sum, while the other half was transferred to Etowah County’s general fund.
County officials confirmed the newspaper’s finding.
“The check has always been made out to him as sheriff,” said Kevin Dollar, Etowah County’s chief financial officer.
Jessica Vosburgh, executive director of the Adelante Alabama Worker Center advocacy group in Hoover, Ala., told the newspaper that these findings should provoke federal authorities to stop sending detainees to the detention center.
“There’s pretty much no way that the federal government is OK with this,” Randall Eliason, who once served as chief of the public corruption and government fraud section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, also said to Al.com.
Budget documents also made clear the plan to split surpluses for feeding jail detainees between Entrekin and the county’s general fund.
“With the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] funds, the money comes in here, we show all the salaries that are paid for ICE and the different expenses that are paid for ICE that we’re required to show, and at the bottom line, say if we had $100,000 [remaining] at the end of the year, then the commission would get $50,000 and the sheriff would get $50,000,” David Akins, Etowah County’s chief administrative officer, said.