BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s attorney general began impeachment proceedings Thursday against a sheriff accused of running his county jail more like a mob boss than a lawman.
The Alabama Supreme Court must now decide whether to remove Sheriff Tyrone Clark Sr. from office for corruption and neglect of duty, as recommended by a grand jury.
Clark is accused of allowing an inmate held on drug trafficking charges to leave jail, return with contraband and avoid being searched before roaming freely inside the Sumter County jail.
Rodney Coats, 39, was supposed to remain behind bars on $675,000 bond on charges of assault, methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking, receiving stolen property and more. Instead, Clark ordered staff not to shake him down, gave him access to firearms, enabled him to engage in human trafficking from inside the jail, and arranged an unsecured room where Coats had sex with visiting women who had not been searched or monitored, according to Attorney General Luther Strange’s report.
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The sheriff also allegedly allowed another inmate, Ronald James, to leave the jail for long periods, endangering the safety of a burglary victim.
Other allegations involve an unauthorized work-release program Clark is accused of running. Officials said Clark allowed inmates out on the condition that they pay him part of their wages in kickbacks, and that some of the inmates worked at Clark’s home.
Clark has not returned phone calls or emails, and it’s unclear if he has an attorney.
The grand jury detailed numerous allegations against Clark in a report dated April 7, about a month after state and federal authorities raided the jail in Livingston.
The Supreme Court will likely hear the case without its chief justice, Roy Moore, who also faces potential removal from office over unrelated ethics accusations.
The sheriff’s department also remains under investigation. District Attorney Greg Griggers declined to say Thursday whether Clark or his subordinates could face criminal charges.
Clark, who was elected sheriff in 2010 and re-elected to another four-year term in 2014, “will continue to be the sheriff unless the Supreme Court issues an order of impeachment,” Griggers said.