Jasper County Assistant Prosecutor Norman Rouse said a fund, set up by former Sheriff Archie Dunn by the company that handles phone calls by inmates in the Jasper County Detention Center for the sheriff's use, was illegal, but Dunn's attorney disagrees.
Rouse announced at Tuesday's Jasper County Commission meeting that the county had received a settlement from the insurance carrier that handled Dunn's public officials bond when he was sheriff for the full amount of $20,000 after sending them a letter about the account.
Rouse said the account, with a company called Encartele, violated state statutes that require public officials to fully disclose and turn over any money earned by his or her office, but Bill Fleischaker, who has represented Dunn in his long-running disputes with the commissioners, said he disagrees with Rouse's interpretation of the law. Fleischaker said he believes the insurance carrier decided to settle because it decided that was less expensive than fighting the county's claims.
“The funds never came into the sheriff's hands,” Fleischaker said. “There was never anything for him to report or turn over to the county. If he didn't tell them how to spend it, the money stayed with Encartele.”
Rouse, in a letter to the insurance carrier, said Encartele had an agreement with the sheriff's office to provide telephone service to jail inmates, with Jasper County receiving 40 percent of the proceeds.
Rouse said the agreement was changed in July 2010 creating a new fund to hold an additional 14 percent of the proceeds.
Rouse said the fund was called a “Tech Fund,” and, while it was held by Encartele, it was available to Sheriff Dunn to use at any time.
A total of $44,461.57 was deposited in the fund between July 2010 and November 2012, and Dunn made purchases from the fund of $41,374.50.
The commissioners became aware of the fund after Sheriff Randee Kaiser took the office in January and earlier this year changed the contract so the money was sent to the county treasurer.
“Sheriff Dunn never disclosed, as required by statute the fact that he was receiving this additional 14 percent, never accounted for it and never turned the money over to the county treasury,” Rouse wrote in his letter to the insurance carrier. “There is no doubt that this was an intentional act and not by accident. The whole system was set up so there would be non-disclosure to the County Commission and to the Auditor. Archie Dunn was not forced to disclose it because the money was never deposited by him into any account.”
Fleischaker said Encartele made the arrangements for the account and held the money.
“Apparently they think it is legal,” Fleischaker said. “They're the ones arranging for it. I'm sure we're not the only county they do this for.”
Page 2 of 2 - Attempts to get a comment from Encartele on Tuesday were unsuccessful. An operator who answered a customer service line listed on the company's website said he did not have a number for anyone who could comment on the story.
Dunn and the commissioners had a long-running feud in his final two years in office over a number of subjects, including housing prisoners in other counties and other issues.
The county settled a claim from Henry County for more than $110,000 for housing prisoners for about $50,000 and reserved the right to sue Dunn for that amount.