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Tennessee Sheriff Indicted for Running Company that Funneled over $1.4 Million of Inmate Wages: Docs

Tennessee Sheriff Indicted for Running Company that Funneled over $1.4 Million of Inmate Wages: Docs

According to information released by the state comptroller’s office on Wednesday, it is alleged that a West Tennessee sheriff established a staffing agency and funneled over $1.4 million of inmate wage fees and deductions to his company. The scheme was purportedly designed to benefit himself and investors.

Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas turned himself in to authorities in Nashville on Wednesday, according to Metro Nashville Police.

Thomas surrendered to authorities in Gibson County on Tuesday after being indicted on 18 counts of official misconduct by a grand jury. In addition, the state has brought forward four additional charges against him, including theft, forgery, computer crimes, and official misconduct in Davidson County.

According to the comptroller’s office, Thomas held a 20% ownership stake in a group of three companies known as the Alliance Group, which he co-founded with other investors. These companies utilized labor from local and state inmates to support businesses.

These companies employed at least 170 inmates. The individuals were accommodated at a transitional facility known as Orchard House, and the state ensured they were given transportation for work release.

Alliance Group received $18 per day for transportation, while inmates at Orchard House were charged $40 per day as reported in WREG News.

Tennessee Sheriff Indicted for Running Company that Funneled over $1.4 Million of Inmate Wages Docs (1)
Photo: Tennessee Comptroller’s Office

According to the state, inmates from the Gibson County Jail were housed at Orchard House without proper approval by a judge. However, Thomas reportedly misled the state by claiming that the inmates were in the county jail, which led to over $507,000 in TDOC funding.

According to reports, an individual is said to have placed around $450,000 of inmate wages into a personal account belonging to the Alliance Group.

According to state officials, Thomas received a total of $181,644.50 in compensation, payroll benefits, and legal representation services from Alliance. It is worth noting that Thomas was not allowed to profit or benefit from the labor of inmates due to state law. The funds were obtained through the use of inmate labor.

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“In addition, Sheriff Thomas neglected to mention his ownership stake in Alliance in his yearly reports to the Tennessee Ethics Commission and breached his responsibility to ensure the safety and proper care of inmates until their lawful release,” stated State Comptroller Jason Mumpower in a press statement.

Thomas has held the position of sheriff in Gibson County since 2014. In 2022, the FBI conducted raids at his residence and other sites in relation to this case.

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