Man arrested on six charges four days after publicly criticizing Etowah County sheriff
A 20-year-old man was arrested last week and charged with drug trafficking four days after AL.com published comments he made criticizing Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin.
Matthew Qualls questioned why Entrekin paid him to mow the lawn at his personal home in 2015 using taxpayer funds allocated for the feeding of inmates in the county jail. Entrekin confirmed that he personally pocketed some of the funds.
As of Tuesday morning, Qualls faced six charges and was being held on $55,000 bail in the Etowah County jail, which Entrekin oversees. Qualls had not been arrested before, according to state records.
Police say the arrest began with an anonymous tip.
Inmate food funds! Anonymous tip! Some days the story just writes itself.
Rainbow City Police Capt. John Bryant said that his department only charged Qualls with second-degree marijuana possession, possessing drug paraphernalia and felony possession of a controlled substance, namely a few Adderall pills that were not prescribed to him.
But records on the Etowah County Sheriff's Office website show that Entrekin's office charged Qualls with three additional crimes: another paraphernalia charge, another felony possession of a controlled substance charge, and felony drug trafficking. Penalties for drug trafficking are extremely steep in Alabama, where people have been imprisoned for life for the crime.
Addition charges from the sheriff who was criticized!
The sheriff's office chose to bring the additional charges despite the fact that spokeswoman Natalie Barton said via email Monday that the case against Qualls "belongs to and was initiated by the Rainbow City Police Department" and "[t]he Etowah County Sheriff's Office did not have any involvement in the arrest of Mr. Qualls."
The police report states that the officers did not, in fact, find 1,042 grams, or just under 2.3 pounds of marijuana buds or leaves - an amount only slightly above the 2.2-pound threshold that elevates possession to trafficking. According to the report, they only found a few grams of actual intact, smokable marijuana, but they also found a large container of cannabis-infused butter, which Qualls and his friends were allegedly making when the police arrived at the door.
You can read the whole thing on al.com which includes a recipe for making pot butter.
OK, no doubt Mr. Qualls is no model citizen and if he is guilty of the charges brought by the RCPD, sorry about that, dude. But then the sheriff, that Qualls dared to criticize, jumped in and suddenly it's trafficking (they counted butter's weight to get to the 2.2 pounds), and it just stinks of retaliation.