Ex-Sumter sheriff pleads guilty to criminal charges
The former Sumter County sheriff who was impeached after allowing an inmate to sell drugs from jail and leave the facility unsupervised has pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges.
The Alabama Supreme Court removed Tyrone Clark from office for corruption and neglect of duty after the allegations surfaced in 2016.
He was arrested that August on 10 criminal charges: three ethics violations of using his office for personal gain, two charges of using county inmates to have work performed at his house, first- and second-degree promoting prison contraband, conspiracy to commit a controlled substances crime, first-degree human trafficking and first-degree perjury.
As jury selection was beginning for a trail Monday, Clark pleaded guilty to most of the charges. He admitted to committing the two misdemeanor inmate employee violations, three felony charges of using his position for personal gain, a felony count of first-degree promoting prison contraband, a felony count of second-degree promoting prison contraband and a felony count of conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime. The state agreed to dismiss charges of first-degree human trafficking and first-degree perjury, according to court records.
The prosecutors recommended that Clark serve a year in prison for both of the misdemeanor charges and five years for each of the felony convictions. He will be sentenced during Circuit Court Judge Eddie Hardaway’s next sentencing docket scheduled for Jan. 9.
The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Greg Griggers. Griggers survived an attempt on his life in the middle of downtown Demopolis less than two weeks ago.
Clark allowed an inmate who was being held on cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking charges to leave the jail and return with drugs, cigarettes and cellphones. The inmate was given the passcode to the jail surveillance system. That inmate was allowed to move freely inside the jail and the administration building, and leave the facility without law enforcement oversight despite having a bail set at $675,000. Clark also gave the inmate access to guns and a room where he had sex with female visitors.
Clark was also running an uncertified work release program, allowing inmates to leave the jail to work if he received a cut of their paychecks. He had inmates perform work at his residence. A grand jury said Clark put the public in danger by hiring a deputy who hadn’t received proper training or state accreditation.
In addition to the one inmate who received special privileges, another inmate serving a 14-month sentence on a burglary charge was allowed to leave the jail for extended periods of time.
A grand jury investigation found that Clark used his position to coerce a woman who worked for him to have sex.