Sumter Co. Sheriff found guilty of neglect, corruption; removed from office
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Sumter County Sheriff Tyrone Clark Sr. has been found guilty of willful neglect of duty and corruption in office by the Alabama Supreme Court, according to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
As a result of the ruling by the Supreme Court, Clark has been removed from office.
AG Strange released the following statement following the ruling:
Today, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld impeachment charges, initiated by Sumter County District Attorney Greg Griggers, reported by the Sumter County grand jury, and prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, against Sumter County Sheriff Tyrone Clark Sr. Sheriff Clark was found guilty of willful neglect of duty and corruption in office and removed from his office of sheriff of Sumter County.
The charges against him involved accusations that he allowed inmates to leave the jail unsupervised, bring contraband into the jail and have sex with visitors.
The allegations arose after the FBI and state officials converged on the Sumter County Jail in March. In April, a Sumter County grand jury issued a report of impeachment, and AG Luther Strange initiated impeachment proceedings in June.
The Attorney General's office says the case centers around trustee inmate Rodney Coats. They say he was in jail on a handful of charges but was allowed to leave and return with drugs and other contraband.
Prosecutors also say Sheriff Clark let other inmates leave for unsupervised jobs like selling watermelons. Clark would then in turn receive a cut of their pay, according to court documents.
The charges that Clark was found guilty of on Wednesday are not criminal proceedings. According to the AG's Office, any criminal proceedings must be brought against Clark separately.
According to Alabama state law, Sumter County Coroner Terry Peeler will be the acting Sheriff until a replacement Sheriff is appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley.
Peeler says he has met with the District Attorney to get members of the drug task force to help out with patrols as the department only has three deputies.
Peeler also says he hopes to build trust back in the community in the wake of the impeachment.
"I would like for the community to be patient with the sheriff's department. We are having a change in guards. Just be patient. I just want you to trust me as your sheriff and trust the deputies because we are going to be headed in a new direction," Peeler said.
No word yet if the former sheriff will face any criminal charges. We spoke with some of the sheriff's office staff about what happened, they told us "it is what it is."
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