AG begins process to impeach Sumter County sheriff
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has begun proceedings for the impeachment of Sumter County Sheriff Tyrone Clark Sr.
On Thursday, June 30, the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division filed an Information of Impeachment and Prayer for Ouster in the Alabama Supreme Court pursuant to Alabama Code § 36-11-4 through § 36-11-5. According to a press release issued by the AG on Thursday, the Sumter County District Attorney initiated the impeachment and a Sumter County Grand Jury issued a report of impeachment against the sheriff in April. That report was sent to the AG to review the referral and take appropriate action.
The document charges Clark with willful neglect of duty, specifying nine alleged violations, and with corruption in office, specifying three alleged violations.
The specifications of willful neglect of duty include:
• Willfully neglecting his duty to secure and supervise inmates under his custody, by making an inmate, who had an extensive criminal history for drug-related offenses, an inmate trustee, allowing him to freely move about the jail and administration buildings and to leave the jail, sometimes without law enforcement supervision;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to prevent the introduction of contraband into the jail and supervise the inmates housed there, by aiding the inmate trustee in bringing in contraband such as controlled substances, cell phones and cigarettes, ordering officers not to search him when he would return to the jail, and arranging for him to be free from oversight;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to supervise inmates and prevent them from possessing a deadly weapon, by allowing the inmate trustee to have access to firearms;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to preserve the process by which prisoners are committed to jail, by allowing the inmate trustee to process prisoners;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to maintain custody of another inmate, allowing a criminal convicted of a violent offense to leave the jail for extended periods;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to maintain custody of a third inmate by failing to swear out an arrest warrant, apprehend or arrest the inmate after he escaped from the jail;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to supervise inmates and secure the jail by giving the inmate trustee access to an unsecured room in which he had sexual intercourse with female visitors who were not searched or monitored; Willfully neglecting his duty to supervise inmates and secure the jail by providing an environment that allowed the trustee inmate to engage in second-degree human trafficking;
• Willfully neglecting his duty to properly appoint and supervise deputies by appointing a deputy sheriff who was allowed to patrol on his own but who had not been certified as a law enforcement officer.
The specifications of corruption in office include:
• Using his official position to benefit himself by employing inmates to work at his personal home;
• Using his official position to benefit himself by operating an undocumented work release program in which inmates worked for individuals or businesses on the condition that a portion of their wages be paid to the sheriff;
• While serving in his official capacity, attempting to use his position to coerce a female employee into having sexual intercourse with him.
No additional information about the charges or the evidence against Clark may be released at this time, other than what is contained in the information document, the release stated.
Under the Alabama Constitution, the Alabama Supreme Court will consider the charges against Clark. By statute, both the State and Clark may present evidence and compel witnesses to testify before the Court at trial. If Clark is found guilty of the allegations, he will be removed from office. Any possible criminal proceedings must be brought separately.
The Attorney General’s office reminds the public that all information is merely an accusation. The sheriff is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty and removed from office.