14 September 2018

[MBM] - The Song Remains the Same: Sheriff Brown Paying Tommy Craig Big, Big $$$

Last week an Open Records Request was tendered & subsequently returned delineating the invoices submitted by William Thomas Craig, Esq. & the monies paid to him for legal services & fees by the Sheriff's department & Ezell Brown, Sheriff, for Fiscal Year 2018 (July 2017 - June 2018) & the numbers are not good, my friends.

During this one year period Sheriff Brown paid even more money to WT Craig than he ever has before, exceeding $300,000 (see graph below)!

As this publication wrote about almost a year ago, a concerning trend of escalating costs for the legal fees paid to the law offices of WT Craig by the Newton County Sheriff's Office (NCSO) had begun pretty much right after Craig was shown the door by the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners at the end of 2015.

As the graph below clearly shows, for years the legal fees of the NCSO were nominal, but notice the huge spike in spending after WTC was fired by the Newton BOC. 

Legal Fees Paid to WTC from the NCSO over the last four years

Now, there was a time, purportedly, when the NCSO was dealing with a potential legal action related to the death of an inmate, and at that time that was referenced as a reason for the higher legal costs, but now the question is begged - what is all of this money being spent on? From approx. $20,000 per annum three years ago, to over $300,00 currently. 

Sheriff Brown
William Thomas "Tommy" Craig, Esq.


Time & time again questions have been asked of the Sheriff as to what, exactly, is going on. Why is this much money being spent now compared to just a few years ago? The default reaction of the Sheriff has always pretty much been - I'm the Sheriff & I can spend this money however I want, I'm a Constitutional Officer. And, technically, he has a point there; however, the law states that the funding mechanism, ultimately, is the governing authority of this political subdivision, which is the BOC. I, and many others, feel that the time has come for Chairman Marcello Banes & the five district Commissioners of Newton to really get serious about figuring out these legal expenses being paid. With the difficulties we saw with the budget process the last two months, the time has come to nip this thing in the bud. 

This story is developing...

As always, thanks for reading.