First, and foremost my political affiliation is none of anybody's business. Nor do I discuss it with anybody. It does not matter if you are an Independent, Republication, or Democrat, when you are voted into a public office you are bound by ethical and legal standards. You are not above the ethical and legal standards because of who you are. I have noticed that some of our comments from anonymous have an inability to grasp the subject matter. The blog is for the benefit of those who have a desire to clean up corruption. It is apparent that some of you would rather spout off nasty comments than to be part of the solution. When the swamp is drained I fully suspect you will be flushed. In the meantime, it is my belief that when you take the time to read you absorb a good portion of the details. Please do not start with Faulkner if you ever decide to read a book. That being said read on…….
Since most of the folks who read this blog are aware of the situation with Sheriff Ana Franklin and the Inmate Food Fund for the Morgan County Jail, maybe it's time to take a closer look at things...from Ana's point of view. In other words, let's play devil's advocate. For argument's sake, let's say that Ana really was entitled to the $160,000 she took out of the Inmate Food Fund in 2015. Let's assume she was entitled to it.
If that's the case, however...if Ana really was entitled to this money (because it was "hers")...then why did she feel compelled to pay it back? If it was her money, why would she feel like she needed to pay it back? If you --personally-- take money out of your bank account to buy something, do you typically feel guilty if you don't eventually pay it all back? Apparently, Ana must have. Otherwise, why would she be willing to pay back all the money she took? After all, it was "her" money...so theoretically, she didn't owe anyone anything. Yet she paid it back, anyway, basically admitting that she had been wrong to take this money in the first place.
Ana also claims that the $160,000 she took from the Inmate Food Fund was surplus, above and beyond what was necessary and required to properly feed the prisoners. That sounds like a problem to me. If there was an excess of $160K in the Inmate Food Fund by the middle of June 2015, then maybe it's being over-endowed on a regular basis. An additional $3,000 or $4,000 that was leftover from the food fund by the end of the year might simply be the results of good stewardship...but an "extra" $160,000 makes you wonder why a surplus that large ever existed. If Ana doesn't need all of the money that's being funded to feed the inmates, then why is it being given to her at all? Couldn't the taxpayers' hard-earned money not be better spent, buying things the county legitimately needs rather than supplementing the Sheriff's already-established salary?
Something else to consider is whether Ana reported the $160,000 she took from the Inmate Food Fund as income on her taxes. Common accounting practices dictate that she should have. The question now is, did she? Depending on her tax bracket, the amount due on a reported income of that size should be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000. So if Ana was genuinely entitled to this money...and she ultimately took it, because it was hers...did she also:
A.) report it on her income taxes
B.) pay the taxes on it that she would have owed to the IRS
There seems to be some gray area surrounding this situation in general. Was what Ana did --by taking this Inmate Food Fund money-- OK or unacceptable? One thing that's certain is the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) was enacted by the U.S. Congress in part for the purpose of taxing net income. According to that Code, "a person's taxable income will generally be subject to the same Federal income tax rules, regardless of whether the income was obtained legally or illegally." IRS Publication 17, which helps taxpayers determine how to report their income, is extremely detailed. Its section on Other Income even specifies "if you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless, in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner." So, either way, whether it was legal or not, income taxes should have still been reported on the $160,000 in question.
What's more, Ana took $160K out of the food fund on June 5, 2015. On December 30, 2016, she deposited $150,000 into a "Food Account" that had been set up at Traditions Bank. So even if Ana actually repaid the money she took, it was still almost a year and a half later and all sorts of amended tax returns should have been filed as a result of it. Question is: was Ana smart enough to figure all of this out on her own...or did Billable Barney have to help?
If you'd like to read more about these IRS tax guidelines, please click on the link below: