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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Who's kidding who?

Sounds like a lot of people are out a lot of money?  So how did this happen?  

How do people like Greg Steenson snow so many people?  Will the final outcome of the creditors reveal how many of the people signed notes with Steenson vice Jeffreys?  We believe it will.  

Jeffreys has money as did most of the people involved in the Performance Auto Sales/Title Marts that are listed in the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  

In an effort to help his kid get a jump start in life and to learn a trade, Jeffreys did what any parent would do.  He set his kid up in a business to help him learn a trade.  Steven Ziaja, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agent, claimed he did not know Steenson's history. Of all the folks we spoke to, all admit that they knew Steenson's history but believed him to be a changed man.   We apparently have spoken to more people than Ziaja and Franklin did about the Title Marts and we didn't even invest.  
Time will tell who signed off on the promissory notes.  I don't know of anyone who claims they didn't know that Steenson was part owner of the auto dealerships except for Ana Franklin. Franklin did admit that she knew Steenson had prior issues.  We hope that Franklin and Ziaja, both law enforcement officers, make a full disclosure that verifies where the money came from that they invested.  

Why do Ziaja and Franklin call their investments loans?  How did Sheriff Ana Franklin go from taking out a $5,000.00 dollar loan at the Title Marts to investing $150,000.00.  

We hope there is an outside agency out there somewhere looking in and following the money trail.

We began researching the Performance Auto Sales in October 2015 after hearing that Steven Ziaja was a silent partner.  We were a little surprised to find Ziaja working at the Title Mart in Decatur and Alyssa Franklin, Sheriff Franklin's daughter working at the Title Mart in Hartselle, Alabama.  We sent multiple folks into the Title Marts to inquire about vehicles and casually asked questions about the owners.  It was very easy for us to find out who the owners were.  All we had to do was go to any of the Title Marts and ask questions.  Alyssa Franklin was very informative in letting people know the names of the owners.  I guess she forgot to tell her mother.
. . . . . . .
The twists and turns of the Title Marts saga are only the latest chapters in the Life and Lies of Ana Franklin.  Loyal readers of WBMC are aware of the obvious acts of nepotism, misappropriation of public funds, lies, deception, and totally inept leadership and management of her office.  But just in case you came late, here’s a recap.  And when you see all of this in one place, you realize what a sorry mess we have here.
As you know Sheryl Marsh, ex-investigative reporter from the Decatur Daily, questioned some of Sheriff Ana Franklin's 
conduct beginning shortly after her swearing in ceremony.  

Franklin had made numerous campaign promises for total transparency in the operations of the MCSO to ensuring that nobody touched the inmate food funds.  

- Two months prior to taking office Franklin submitted a question via her attorney to ascertain if the Federal Judge’s ruling on the Morgan County Sheriff's Office food funds applied to her.

- From the time Franklin began campaigning Steven Ziaja was by her side.  Ziaja worked day and night to help get Franklin elected.  He and Jennifer Howell seemed to be driven to ensure Franklin won the election. Once Franklin was safely in office she reciprocated; she and Ziaja worked hard to ensure Howell's election.

- The deed for the home Franklin owned when taking office on Williams Lane identified her as a co-sign owner of the home.  The home is no longer listed on the Probate Judges website.  However, the property tax still shows her as a co-owner of the home with an appraised value of $124,000.00.

- Steven Ziaja co-signed for Derek Sheats and Erika Franklin Sheats’ new home.  The house underwent a complete transformation within approximately three months.  New paint inside and out, refinished hardwood floors, new furniture and appliances.  In essence a total makeover.  Derek and Erika opened their own home health care operation.  The rumor around town was that a family member had given the young couple $100,000.00 start up funds to establish the business. Eventually the couple obtained a very high dollar travel camper, new vehicles, and a commercial style barbecue setup for the barbecue scene.

- Derek Sheats went to work as a sales representative for a food vending company.  Franklin quickly dropped the long-term contract with Halsey foods and hired the company that Sheats worked for.

- The Daily questioned Franklin in regards to a possible state ethics violation as a result of an advertisement flyer being circulated through the sheriff's office promoting Franklin's River City Fitness Gym. 

- Franklin's MCSO seat wasn't warm before she demoted four employees and subsequently terminating one of the employees. After the termination of the Drug Task Force Officer, Franklin made her long term friend Bones Wilson LT and Commander of the Drug Task Force Office.  LT Bones Wilson shot and killed a man during an on the job incident several years ago.  He was acquitted of any wrong doing.  Bones Wilson is also the deputy who reported shot and killed a Labrador retriever during a drug raid.  The homeowners were not at home during the raid. Bones Wilson is alleged to have shot multiple more dogs since the shooting of the Lab.

- Franklin kept a campaign promise and hired Ron Livingston and immediately promoted him to captain above multiple highly qualified MCSO employees.  Ron Livingston is still with the MCSO today.  One of his responsibilities is management and control of fire arms equipment.  To date there are reportedly two weapons assigned to Livingston that are unaccounted for.  We have no knowledge of an internal or external investigation into the missing weapons.  According to the Decatur Daily, Livingston, 72 years old and unable to make arrests when hired, was sent to APOST certification training twice but was unable to complete the course.  To date we have not been able to prove that CPT Livingston received APOST Certification.  When we contacted APOST we were told that they have records "ONLY" on APOST certified sheriff's deputies.  In addition, Livingston soaked up $3,000.00 in overtime in the first four months of employment.  

- Sheriff Ana Franklin hired her eldest daughter to work in the Sheriff's Office as well.  Our sources tell us that Franklin did not pay Erika Franklin out of MCSO funds but instead paid her in gift certificates and paid her daycare.

- Sheriff Ana Franklin also attempted to hire the local Fraternal Order of Police President, Mr. Richard Stover. According to the Decatur Daily, Franklin sent Stover for pre-employment drug screening into a position that did not exist. Franklin was told by the commission at that time that the records reflected that there was six openings for corrections officers and a maintenance worker.  Long said Franklin gave him one announcement for all the positions with the same job description.  Some things never change.  Franklin's hiring practices are far worse now than when she first took office January 17, 2011.  

- Sheriff Ana Franklin hired her first cousin and multiple others as contract labor for the jail.

- Sheriff Ana Franklin hired her common law son-in-law Jonathan Stebbins as a corrections officer during the same time he was sending time in the Limestone County jail after a pre-trail diversion for a 1st Degree Burglary charge.  Stebbins worked for the MCSO 6 weeks.  During his six weeks of employment Stebbins was arrested multiple times on contempt of court and burglary 3d. After Stebbins arrest on January 31, 2013 for contempt of court burglary 3d he was allowed to resign without proper notice.

- We begin to see that Franklin was getting heavily involved with the posse/rodeo scene.  Traveling out of town a lot.  Franklin purchased one horse trailer for approximately $3,000 and another horse trailer with living quarters for approximately $69,000.00 (pictures available elsewhere on this blog).  We begin seeing lavish spending on the posse, rodeo queens, equipment, saddles, bridles, lavish western clothing for Franklin, and more.

- Sheriff Ana Franklin had approximately 169 reserve deputies she was using to help supplement the sheriff's office.  The sheriff's office was suffering from a severe lack of leadership, the sheriff rescinded the Morgan County Sheriff's Manual as of the day she took office.  There was no formal manual or guideline for the road deputies, no written standard of conduct, and little to no oversight.

- Around year three it seemed that surely the people of Morgan County had had enough.  We had big hopes during the primary elections with the slogan ‘Anybody But Ana’.  Unfortunately none of the folks who ran against Franklin made a good showing and Franklin subsequently ran away with the election.

- Sheriff Ana Franklin continued making questionable hiring decisions.  Franklin first brought Larry Berzett on as a contract employee and quickly promoted him to a "salary contractor". Franklin subsequently wrote a job description for Larry Berzett and hired him into the position of  Administrative Deputy.  

- Franklin also hired Alexandria Berzett, Larry Berzett's granddaughter as a dispatcher.  Alex Berzett misused the NCIC database during her tenure at the MCSO by looking up unauthorized information.  Alex’s punishment for the misuse, that should have been immediate termination, was ordered to ride with a road deputy (Blake Robinson).  This punishment ensured that Alex Berzett would lose no pay during her punishment. 

- In during the first three and a half years the road deputies were tasked to have no more than four vehicles on the road during each shift in an effort to help save resources.  Little to no new equipment was purchased.  Corrections officers were being forced to work with less than adequate staff.  Employees were leaving in droves, and new employees were not receiving adequate background checks.  

So now what?  FOUR MORE YEARS.....

- During the primary elections we requested through Alabama Open Record Requests copies of all of the MCSO financial records to include accounts payable and receivable.  

- We eventually received letters from Tucker, Scott & Wates, LLC without the enclosures that typically accompany the reports.  Once we begin looking at the documentation it appeared to our untrained eyes that there was some major discrepancies between the compilation reports, the ledgers, and the State Auditor's report.  To date no higher authority within the state has taken interest in the audits.  We were recently told that Tucker, Scott, and Wates, LLC is on contact agreement with Sheriff Ana Franklin.  We have not been able to verify that information.  We did not realize it was standard procedure for a state or county organization to hire and retain an outside accounting agency. 

- We also reported on Franklin's obvious favoritism to Three Sisters Bonding aka Special Events and More.

- Sheriff Ana Franklin's rodeo/posse events where little to no money made it to the special needs.

- One of Sheriff Ana Franklin's cronies that walked into the office at the posse grounds and picked up several hundred dollars, stuck it in his pocket and walked out with it as if it was his money.

- Lies about accomplishments and busts that the drug task force made.  Ignoring the statistics reported by the state to the national level.

- Using inmates and maintenance personnel to collect evidence at a drug bust.

- I'm in charge.  Going over the heads of State Law Enforcement Officers.  

- We reported on Timothy Alan Hall who committed a vehicular homicide.  Hall is the first cousin of Derek Sheats, Sheriff Ana Franklin's son-in-law.  Hall received a sweet deal from the Sheriff and he will never see the walls of prison.  Hall is currently on work release in Morgan County, Alabama.

- We could go on and on but I want to stop it here with one of the most despicable acts Franklin has made since being sworn into office.  Franklin, Howell, and Blakely's handling of Roger Stevens, the man charged with Capital Murder in the death of his ex-wife Mrs. Kay Stevens.  No words can express how we feel in regards to how this case was handled.   

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