Updated at 1:41 p.m. to show Thursday's federal court hearing has been continued.
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin did use money from the jail's inmate food fund to loan $150,000 to a now-bankrupt used car dealership, her attorneys said in court records.
Franklin's attorneys made that statement in a response to a motion filed by the Southern Center of Human Rights that said the sheriff needs to show why she shouldn't be held in contempt of a 2009 federal consent order. It previously had not been made clear whether Franklin's loan to the business had come from the food funds.
Franklin was scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday morning at 9 a.m. for a hearing, but in a joint motion the sheriff and the Center asked for a continuance. U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon approved the continuance in an order today. Kallon has not rescheduled the hearing.
The hearing regards whether Franklin violated a 2009 consent order that says the Morgan County sheriff cannot use inmate food funds for anything other than feeding inmates. Franklin declined to comment, saying she can't speak about the case until after the hearing.
Around the time she made a loan to a now-bankrupt, corrupt used car dealership, Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin took $160,000 out of the jail's inmate food fund.
In their response motion, the sheriff's attorneys, T. Mark Maclin, of Athens, and Barney Lovelace, of Decatur, said Franklin's $150,000 loan to Priceville Partners in June 2015 was taken from the inmate food money.
"Sheriff Franklin acknowledges that the money she loaned that business came from funds removed from the Peoples Bank Food Account," the motion states.
Franklin was one of several people listed as a creditor in a March 2016 bankruptcy filing after Priceville Partners closed. The business' co-owner was arrested on accusations of running a theft and scam operation. That co-owner, Greg Steenson, went to federal prison for an unrelated check kiting scheme in the 90s. Franklin has said she did not know Steenson was a co-owner when she made a loan to the company.
Greg SteensonMorgan County Jail
Franklin and the other creditors listed in the $3.2 million bankruptcy lawsuit are not charged with theft crimes associated with the business. However, Morgan County prosecutors are alleging Steenson was selling stolen vehicles at the used car lot. The vehicles weren't owned by Steenson or the dealership, and clear titles weren't provided for the purchases, according to court records.
Franklin's lawyers also said in their response that what she did with the money doesn't matter because it's her private account. That assertion, however, is in question.
In general, Alabama sheriffs are allowed to keep any unspent food funds, but in Morgan County the consent decree prohibits the county's top cop from pocketing the money in addition to the $68,000 salary.
The consent decree stems from a 2001 federal lawsuit filed by Morgan County Jail inmates about conditions in the facility. The inmates sued the county and then-sheriff Steve Crabbe.
The Center said in its motion that Franklin must comply with the consent decree because "public officials are automatically substituted as parties to any case in which their predecessors in office were sued in their official capacity," according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Franklin's predecessor, Greg Bartlett, was jailed for contempt of court after he was substituted as a defendant for Crabbe. Bartlett, who was dubbed "Sheriff Corndog" was found in contempt because he pocketed more than $200,000 while inmates were fed corndogs twice a day for weeks.
Franklin's attorneys argue the ruling doesn't apply to her, as U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon, who issued the consent decree, did not find unconstitutional the state law that allows sheriffs to keep unspent food funds.
To help pay for meals, Alabama pays Morgan County $1.75 per day for each state inmate that's housed in the jail. For each federal inmate meal, the county receives $3.
The Center in its court motion said Franklin removed $150,000 and $10,000 from the food account on June 5, 2015 by using two cashier's checks. Franklin refused to show records about what happened with the $160,000, the center said in its motion. But, she provided a document that showed an account named "Ana Woodard Franklin, Food Account" had a $160,000 balance in February. The account is listed under a Hartselle home address.
Sheriff Franklin acknowledges that the money she loaned that business came from funds removed from the Peoples Bank Food Account
The sheriff's attorneys denied those claims, saying in their response that Franklin provided financial records requested by the Center.
The attorneys, citing two federal cases, also said Franklin should not be required to adhere to the consent decree because she was not involved in and did not consent to Bartlett's agreement in the order.
The motion asks if Bartlett had proposed and agreed in the consent order to work every day in the jail's kitchen, "Would that mean every sheriff after Sheriff Bartlett would also be required to work every day in the kitchen, etc.?"
The response motion from Franklin's attorneys also references the Morgan County Whistleblower, the blog which first made public cashier's checks that show Franklin withdrew $160,000 from the fund account in June 2015. The blog also published deposit slips that show Priceville Partners deposited more than $150,000 a few days later.
Glenda LockhartCourtesy photo
The blog is embroiled in an unrelated lawsuit between its creator, Glenda Lockhart, and the sheriff.
The lawsuit claims the sheriff's office illegally obtained information to convince a judge to issue a search warrant for Lockhart's home and business. Franklin has said her office seized computers and various other devices and filed during an investigation into fired jail warder Leon Bradley, who has been accused of leaking documents to Lockhart for publication on the blog.
Bradley was fired for administrative violations, and though he hasn't been charged with a crime, Franklin has said he's being investigated.
WHY? Why was the account under her name only? It should of said, Morgan Co. Jail Inmate Food Fund Account and have the address of the jail and have the sheriff's name on it as well. THEN have a limit of how much can be taken out at one time. Over the limit, you have to get a permission slip from the County Commissioners. What on earth! I bet the teller or loan officer that did that cashiers check thought, ROH, ROH! WT?
Horrible that they raided the blogger's house and got all of her electronics!
Keep up the pressure blogger! God bless you.
Can't believe the state allowed the sheriff to feed inmates corn dogs 2 times a day for weeks.
I hope Sheriff Corn Dog had to smoke and stuff many Corn Dogs in many places in prison.
It's a state law that the sheriff's leftover food money for the inmates belongs to the sheriff as long as he/she feeds them by Federal standards. I'm sure you all have looked at the Alabama Code. Ain't nobody going to go to prison and no inmate will be ordering lobster any time soon, dummies.
@GOCountry103 Maybe you should read a little more. The woman took the money from the fund. She did not take leftovers. She took nearly 105 k and gave it to a convicted felon. Also a state judge ruled that the Morgan county sheriff could not take prisoner food money.
Lets pretend how this played out. Dumb Hick Car Lot Owner "hey sheriff can I borrie 150k, mi junky car lot is bankrupt?" Foxy Morgan County Repubublican Sheriff "sure honey, I will just steal it from the county jail."
Dumb Hick Car Lot Owner "you rekon we will get in trouble?" sheriff "naw, suga, there ain't no democrats up here to run against me, we put em all in jail, plus I wear high heels to work and my facebook says that I love Jesus and hate obama, we good to go!"
Her attorneys don't want anyone to see the actual bank statements because they have all become rich from fighting her battles is what I was told today. Quickbooks I just saw on whistleblower...please demand legal documents...not fake ones. I think people in Morgan County should all ban together and refuse to pay local taxes until this thief is arrested.
I would like to see a report of funds received to feed inmates in all Alabama counties and amount spent to feed them. The fact that the sheriff can pocket what he doesn't use to feed the inmates invites corruption. It's my understanding that the excess is personally kept by the sheriff, rather than going to the county general fund or even to the sheriff's budget.
Want a good laugh? "Sheriff" Franklin has run off all of the good jailers and most of the decent deputies in Morgan County, so she put an ad on Facebook to hire more. Look at the qualification: NO KNOWN ASSOCIATIONS WITH FELONS.
Ana isn't qualified to be an $11.00/hour jailer in her own jail. ROFLMAO
Your characterization of her statement is completely wrong and misleading. She didn't threaten to shoot more dogs. She said she loves animals and that it makes her mad when criminals keep dogs in the vicinity for their protection or even just as pets because some of those dogs are large and vicious and represent a threat to police officers and must therefore be neutralized i.e. killed.
She's obviously crooked as a dog's hind leg but she is not some pet-hating monster like you're suggesting.
@Chiku Misra She's sticking for her goon, Bones Wilson. It wasn't a vicious breed, it was a golden retriever. They claim it lunged at them. There's a very graphic YouTube video that shows the dog's body. Given where the wound is, I find it difficult to believe it was lunging at anyone.
@Dem Dimmies His opinions certainly do count just as much as yours does. Just because he doesn't blindly support a group no matter how bad the behavior of some in their ranks is like you do is irrelevant.
@kutbait Hopefully not for long. Why is she still sheriff? There's an insane amount of Ana groupies living here that think she is the greatest woman since Joan of Arc and think it's just a "libaruhl ajender" that people are proving she stole $160K of their taxpayer money.
@TGTG34@kutbait Yes. Many are sobbing and pleading all over FB today about how this can't be true. Oh, it's true, and she is being investigated for more than this. She has several minions in the department who do her bidding--they all need to go.
This is state and tax-payer money. It needs to be in an account with transparency and not a sheriff's personal account. There is just too much room for temptation for malfeasance as shown in the Franklin case.
OK Legislature ---- it's time to remove that antiquated law off the books. There was a time when sheriff weren't paid much and the additional money was needed. That is not the case today. AND since federal funds are included I consider that MY MONEY and I don't want any greedy sheriff using it for their own personal gain.
I also want to kno how someone as twisted as Sheriff Franklin keeps getting reelected
Well not exactly....the reason the County Commission doesn't take over the feeding is because the Sheriff controls the kitchens and the inmate labor to run them. If the Sheriff doesn't want to relinquish the food account...he will make it a living hell for the Commission...food roits...inmate work curtailment..ect