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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Is Greg Steenson stupid or arrogant

Folks, I don't know if Greg Steenson is just plain stupid or as arrogant as cousin Ana.  These folks appear to believe they are above the law.  We have caught these guys in lies and deception multiple times and still they continue to lie and deceive.  Looks like Steenson will have a long time to think about his actions and that doesn't even include the cold walls of prison.  State prison may not be as comfy as Federal Prison.

'Nightmare' conditions may have helped sheriff buy beach house

Here we go again, folks. 

Joseph Estrade spent just three nights in the Etowah County Detention Center, but the 29-year-old New Orleans man considers that long weekend in April 2016 one of the worst experiences he has ever endured.
He describes the county jail as a "nightmare" plagued by a host of problems including poor food, unsanitary conditions and severe overcrowding that made him feel like he was "going insane" within a few hours of his booking into the Gadsden facility.
"That jail is like a prison; it's not a common jail. You walk in and it's very surreal how intense it is inside," Estrade, who was held in the detention center after being arrested by the Etowah County Sheriff's Office on marijuana charges two weeks before his wedding, said in a Friday phone interview.
"I know jail is not supposed to be Disneyland, I get that. It's a punishment place - great. But people still need to be treated like human beings."
Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has come under scrutiny for the way he manages the jail following an report last week that revealed that he personally pocketed more than $750,000 in public funds allocated to feed its prisoners.
"In regards to feeding of inmates, we utilize a registered dietitian to ensure adequate meals are provided daily," he said via email earlier this month.
On Wednesday Entrekin declined to answer detailed questions about how he feeds the inmates, complaints about the food, or how he manages the inmate-feeding funds. He instead stated via email that "[a]ll questions concerning the feeding of inmates will be answered at a news conference on Friday for you and your media colleagues."
A litany of current and former inmates, civil rights advocates and lawyers have repeatedly alleged over the past five years that the food served in the facility - known as either the Etowah County Detention Center or simply the Etowah County jail - is subpar, portions are inadequate and the conditions in the facility are inhumane.
The article continues with tales of lousy, cramped conditions, stopped up toilets, sleeping on the floor on plastic "boats",loss of weight, food poisoning, etc.  
Here's the link to the entire article:

Another Proposed Bill about Inmate Food Funds and the Sheriffs

It is interesting, isn't it, that instead of simply amending, or better yet, canceling that antiquated law that encourages county sheriffs to starve their inmates and pocket the money, individual counties are stepping up to correct the situation piecemeal.  And each one takes an amendment to the Constitution (another antiquated document)! The Alabama Sheriff's Association is a powerful lobby in Montgomery and has fought a state-wide solution every time it comes up.  Shame!

MONTGOMERY — The Lawrence County sheriff would receive a raise and new rules about how to spend money designated for feeding inmates under a proposed constitutional amendment in the Legislature.  House Bill 526 is sponsored by Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. He said Wednesday it is in response to issues in other counties, including one sheriff legally using more than $750,000 of funds meant to feed inmates to purchase a beach house.
Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell didn’t return phone messages seeking comment Wednesday.“I would think any sheriff would be supportive" of the bill, Johnson said.
The proposal also mandates that the sheriff earn the same amount as the probate judge. Mitchell earns $66,935 annually. The probate judge earns $77,839.
Inmate food funding also has been a point of controversy in Morgan County, and the Legislature this session approved a proposed constitutional amendment for it that’s similar to what Johnson is proposing in Lawrence County. It will go before voters later this year.
Meanwhile, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin said he follows a state law passed before World War II that allows sheriffs to keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves. The sheriff’s annual salary is more than $93,000. He and his wife purchased a four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in September for $740,000.  Stay tuned for another blog on conditions in the Etowah Count jail.
Johnson’s bill says any money designated for inmate food has to be kept in a separate fund, spent on that purpose or other law enforcement purposes and can be carried over from year to year. Any shortfalls in the fund would have to be covered by the Sheriff’s Office.
Johnson’s bill is late in this legislative session expected to end next week. If it were passed by the Legislature, Lawrence County voters would then vote on the constitutional change. Similar bills for a few other counties have been filed recently.

More Detail on Steenson's Re-arrest

It's a busy day in Blogville, folks.  From the Daily comes more on Steenson.  He just can't stay out trouble.  Follow the link or read the edited article.  The Daily gets upset if we used the entire piece.

ADDED COMMENT:  An alert reader has pointed out in the first comment below that Heritage Bank was not involved in the kiting scheme.

Priceville Partners owner back to jail for alleged used car fraud
  • By Eric Fleischauer Metro Editor
A Decatur man already charged with selling used cars he did not own is back in jail for allegedly doing it again.
Greg Steenson, 49, an owner of Priceville Partners from June 2013 until February 2016, was charged in August 2016 with multiple counts of theft and forgery, most revolving around the sale of vehicles to which he allegedly did not hold titles.  His bond was conditionally revoked Tuesday for allegedly doing the same thing.

According to an affidavit filed in the Morgan County District Court along with a motion to revoke bond, Steenson in late 2017 swindled $15,650 from the owner of a used car dealership in Birmingham. Steenson's bond, according to the motion signed by District Attorney Scott Anderson, required that he obey all laws and "that he refrain from buying, selling, trading or otherwise being involved in the transfer of automobiles."

Morgan County District Attorney’s investigator Johnny Coker said in the affidavit he was contacted by Craig Westbrook, owner of Birmingham Broker, in January.  Steenson allegedly told Westbrook he was looking for a partner, which he needed because he had recently sold a used car business and had signed a non-compete clause.
Steenson proposed, according to the affidavit, two separate business deals. In one, Steenson would purchase high-end used vehicles which would then be sold at Westbrook’s Birmingham business. In the other, Steenson would join with Westbrook in buying low-value cars which they would sell to a “buy here-pay here” lot in Madison, Tennessee.

Westbrook made two initial cash payments to Steenson totaling $15,650, according to the affidavit, and Steenson provided him with a list of the 42 cars he purportedly had purchased. When Steenson kept coming up with excuses for why he had not delivered the cars to Westbrook, the Birmingham dealer became suspicious, according to the affidavit.

“Westbrook said he gained access to Steenson’s phone,” according to the affidavit. “He saw the Caller ID number listed as Steenson’s source for the used cars was actually the number for Jason Steenson, Greg Steenson’s brother.”  Westbrook allegedly confronted Greg Steenson on Dec. 12, three weeks before contacting the DA’s office.  “Westbrook video recorded the meeting with Steenson and accused him of fraud,” according to the affidavit. “At one point Steenson can be heard to say on the video, ‘You got me.’ Steenson then signed a statement prepared by Westbrook admitting to never buying the vehicles.”

Steenson’s Morgan County charges are not his first brush with the law. After pleading guilty to a check-kiting scheme involving Heritage Bank in 2002, he served 28 months in prison.
A director of Heritage Bank at the time of Steenson’s check-kiting scheme was Harold Jeffreys of Decatur. He became reacquainted with Steenson in 2013, when Steenson was selling Christmas trees from a lot he leased on Point Mallard Parkway.

Jeffreys claims he eventually invested more than $3 million in Priceville Partners, which was owned by Jeffreys, Jeffreys’ son and Steenson. Jeffreys blames its bankruptcy on Steenson. Steenson blames it on Jeffreys and his son. The bankruptcy trustee has filed complaints against all three seeking to recoup money for unsecured creditors.

One of those unsecured creditors was Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, who loaned $150,000 from an account used to hold money for feeding jail inmates. The loan was to pay her 17 percent interest, but the bankruptcy interfered. She was found in contempt of court for the loan last year, as it violated a 2009 order preventing the sheriff from using food money for purposes other than feeding inmates.  Because of Franklin's ties to Steenson, he is being held in Limestone County Jail instead of Morgan County Jail.

Franklin said she repaid the food account with money provided by her social friend Steven Ziaja, of Falkville, who she said encouraged her to make the loan.  Ziaja, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency agent, had himself loaned more than $500,000 to the business, according to bankruptcy filings. He was indicted Nov. 16 on 11 felony counts of computer tampering and one felony count of using his office "to obtain personal gain for himself, a family member or a business with which he was associated." . Ziaja pleaded not guilty, and he was released on $30,000 bond. He is on unpaid leave from ALEA.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The hits keep coming

Blogger Comments:  Folks, the wires are inundated today with reports on sheriffs and inmate food funds.  Check out the Decatur Daily for more on the Morgan County Sheriff Ana 


LawCo bill wouldn’t let sheriff keep inmate food money

Namey and the Trustee

Folks, we noticed Namey was out hanging rodeo signs along with a trustee in Hartselle today.  He stands out like a sore thumb in the sheriff's office vehicle.  Surprised that he wasn't on main street at an eatery.

Hey! Namey.  Why not feed the inmate while you have him out working? has several stories on sheriff's this morning

Blogger Comments:  Folks the stories on about Alabama Sheriff's is a must read today.  We strongly recommend it.

49 Alabama sheriffs hide jail food funds, flout open records law

Alabama Appleseed and the the Southern Center for Human rights requested documents showing how sheriffs spent their jail food funds and how much those sheriffs put in their own pockets. 49 sheriffs ignored the requests and are fighting the public information request in court.

I'm looking back in our archives at the same story, written again, and again and again.
Sometimes it ends with the sheriff spending some time in jail.
Other times, it doesn't.
But always it begins with the food fund.
Under Alabama law, the state gives sheriffs the funds to feed their prisoners, and while the language is a bit fuzzy, it has been interpreted by some to mean that what's left over goes to the sheriff as a sort of performance bonus.
That's one way of looking at it. Another is that it incentivizes sheriffs to starve the inmates in their jails.
Always, it seems, things go bad.
In 2005, a Mobile County grand jury indicted Sheriff Jack Tillman for taking food funds to start a retirement account for himself. Tillman later pleaded guilty to perjury and an ethics violation and gave the money back.
But other sheriffs kept taking.
In 2009, a federal judge briefly jailed Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett after he pocketed $212,000 from the fund while feeding prisoners a truckload of old corn dogs he bought for $500. Breakfast, lunch and dinner -- for three months.
But other sheriffs kept taking.
Even though Morgan County remained under a federal court order to spend its jail food money on jail food, Bartlett's successor, Ana Franklin, stroked herself a $150,000 check which she invested in a shady used car lot run by a felon previously convicted of bank fraud. Franklin was held in contempt of court for violating the federal consent decree and fined $1,000.But other sheriffs kept taking.
And now comes Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin who, over three years, pocketed at least $750,000 of left over jail food money, according to his reports with the Alabama Ethics Commission. As Reckon's Connor Sheets has reported, this was around the same time Entrekin bought a $740,000 house in Orange Beach.
And yet, other sheriffs keep taking.
Entrekin has gone on TV multiple times since then to plead his case, all but saying he's the real victim here, and the national media have hooked onto a story so absurd, of course it came from Alabama.
But here's the thing: No matter all the times we've written this story. No matter all the lawsuits and indictments over jail food. No matter all the human rights do-gooders coming to our state to make us feed our inmates -- we still don't know how deep this problem goes.
And that's all on the sheriffs -- because they can't follow a simple law, the Alabama Open Records Act.
After the latest funny business in Morgan County, the Southern Center for Human Rights and Alabama Appleseed sent public records requests to 66 of Alabama's 67 counties other than Morgan to see how much money those sheriffs were putting in their pockets.Some county commissions have taken control of jail food service from their sheriffs, and those sheriffs quickly replied that they didn't have anything to do with it anymore.
Let's not pass judgment on him for taking the money -- at least not now -- and instead, give him props for following Alabama's Open Records Act.
Because 49 sheriffs refused to hand over their records.
Instead, they are now fighting the SCHR and Appleseed in court, trying to keep those documents secret.
According to their court filings, which are mostly identical and appear to be coordinated through the Alabama Sheriffs Association, the sheriffs are arguing that the moment the state sends them the food money it becomes the sheriffs' personal money and that the check registers and ledgers, cancelled checks and such are all their personal information.
Again, secret.
And of course, they want to keep those records secret, because imagine if the public could see that.
Or worse, imagine if the IRS saw that.
So they're hiding your money --  money that some, if not most, if not all, are putting into their own pockets, using to pay their bills, using to finance their own car payments and second homes at the beach.And that's only the second biggest scandal. The first is that to hide it, these sworn law enforcement officers and flouting the law.
I've openly questioned before the wisdom of elected sheriffs. That institution is a weird vestigial appendage left over from our English legal ancestry that mixes politics and law enforcement together in a witches' brew of corruption.
But I'm rethinking things, because this year is an election year, and you will have an opportunity soon.
So go look at the map above this column. If you live in one of those red counties, ask your sheriff whose money it is that he's putting in their pocket and whose records it is that they keep.
And if they tell you that it's their own personal business and none of yours, then go to a voting booth this fall and remind them who those records and that money really belongs to.
Kyle Whitmire is the state political columnist for the Alabama Media Group. 
Want access to the best analysis and in-depth reporting about Alabama each week? Sign up for the weekly Reckon Report newsletter and follow Reckon on Facebook and Twitter.As reports from center-left Alabama Appleseed, libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, and very conservative Heritage Foundation have detailed, too often those assets are taken from people who have done absolutely nothing wrong. In many cases those people are never able to regain what they lost.
It's essentially guilty until proven innocent, the polar opposite of what our justice system is supposedly based on.
At the beginning of the session Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) filed bills that would have made Alabama best protector of due process under Civil Asset Forfeiture in the country, but severe backlash from the law enforcement community stalled the bill.
President of the Alabama District Attorneys Association Brian McVeigh and president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association Dave Sutton argued the bill would "gut" the "crime-fighting tool."
Their op-ed drew nationwide attention, particularly for the admission that the ability to take cash and other liquid assets from suspected criminals is the driving factor in why some Alabama law enforcement departments more avidly pursue particular sorts of criminals over others.
"What incentive would local police and sheriffs have to invest manpower, resources and time in these operations if they don't receive proceeds to cover their costs?" Wrote McVeigh and Sutton.After weeks of talks, it appears many of the various groups have come to a compromise on a path forward over the controversial practice.
Under the new compromise, law enforcement officials would be required to detail how and when the assets were seized, the accused crime that had taken place to cause the seizure, how the funds or assets were used by the department, and whether or not there was ultimately a conviction in the case, among other data points.
The database, which will be maintained by ALEA starting in 2019, will not be publicly accessible until 2020.
Alabama will be the 38th state to require such reporting.
In a press release the District Attorneys Association Chief Deputy Director Barry Matson said, "The citizens of Alabama give immense authority and power to law enforcement, district attorneys and the judiciary. In granting this power, the public has a right to demand fairness, professionalism and transparency. And they deserve nothing less."
Former Congressman Artur Davis, who is representing the Institute for Justice on this matter in Alabama, said the bill is a good first step toward accountability and transparency.
"It ought to be hard rather than easy for the state to take your property away," Davis told me. "That's the underlying conviction of all of us who support forfeiture reform and we think it will be easier to make that argument if there is a state compiled record.""We will also know agency by agency and statewide what patterns of forfeiture activity look like in this state. This is a significant victory because if this legislation is not passed Alabama will remain in the category of being one of the least transparent states in the country when it comes to forfeiture."
While the compromise does get the endorsement of both the law enforcement community and the conservative and center-right organizations like API and IJ, center-left groups like Alabama Appleseed and the Southern Poverty Law Center have pulled their support, saying the bill doesn't go far enough.
I agree--it doesn't go far enough.
But the first step toward accountability is transparency.
Next year the Legislature will come back without the pressures of an election year and a shortened session to contend with, and maybe even some freshmen legislators who will embrace the public's support of reform.  
The compromise bill was introduced to the House Thursday, but Sen. Orr said Monday there were a few clarifications that need to be made before it will make its appearance in the Senate.
Because of the shortened legislative session, one of the best things supporters of the bill can do to make sure it is made a priority is to contact their legislators. You can find yours here on the Alabama Legislature's website.

It's good to be king ... or an Alabama sheriff

We found Greg Steenson

Steenson's bond was revoked, he was transported to the Morgan County jail and later transferred to the Limestone County jail with a revoked bond.  See charges below. 

Was Greg Steenson's Bond Revoked?

Folks, our sources told us that Greg Steenson's bond was revoked last night and that he was in the Morgan County Jail.  If that is true he has already been moved.  We will keep searching and blog our findings. The picture below came from the Morgan County Jail inmate search last night. Steenson's previous mug shots are also posted below.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Anonymous March 19, 2018 at 5:15 PM

 Bloggers Comment:  
A couple of comments, folks.  First, this blog is all about Morgan County and it's corruption problems, especially with the sheriff and her followers.  The foibles of the rest of the state are both informative and current information from around the state and instructive, and we post them for educational purposes from a statewide view.  BUT our main concern is our own county.  Let me tell you that we are busy enough right here at home to go on a state-wide crusade.

Second, in these times of increasing sensitivity, it's a  good idea to avoid using words or phrases that can be interpreted as threatening.   "Crosshairs" is a good example. 

Some of the comments on the blog are crude, rude, and nasty.  That is your choice.  However, when I need to make statements I will post them on the blog.  Perhaps this Anonymous should start his/her own blog.

Alabama is cleaning the swamp one thief at a time. Here that Ana?

Blogger Comments:  One step at a time; that's all we're asking from state, local, and federal investigators.  We hope the fines and punishment fit the crimes.  

Former county administrator pleads guilty to using position to steal more than $700,000