In September, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife Karen purchased an orange four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach for $740,000.
To finance the purchase, Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, according to public real estate records. 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 in Etowah and Baldwin counties.
Some Etowah County residents question how a county sheriff making a five-figure annual salary can afford to own multiple houses, including one worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.
But ethics disclosure forms Entrekin filed with the state reveal that over the past three years he has received more than $750,000 worth of additional “compensation” from a source he identified as “Food Provisions.”
Entrekin did not deny that he received the money when asked about it via email last week. Ethics forms he filed in previous years do not list any income from such a source.
Entrekin told AL.com last month that he has a personal account that he refers to as his “Food Provision” fund. And Etowah County resident Matthew Qualls said that in 2015 Entrekin paid him to mow his lawn via checks with the words “Sheriff Todd Entrekin Food Provision Account” printed in the upper-left corner. AL.com viewed a photograph of one such check.
The money in the account was allocated by federal, state and municipal governments to feed inmates in the Etowah County jail, but was not used for that purpose and was instead personally pocketed by Entrekin.
“In regards to feeding of inmates, we utilize a registered dietitian to ensure adequate meals are provided daily,” Entrekin said Sunday via email. “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.”
‘More than $250,000’
Many Alabama sheriffs contend that the practice of keeping “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves is legal under a state law passed before World War II. Yet in a number of counties including Jefferson and Montgomery, any money allocated to sheriffs for feeding inmates that is not used for that purpose is instead turned over to the county government.
Entrekin reported on forms he filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission that he made “more than $250,000” each of the past three years via the inmate-feeding funds.