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    Gibson County Sheriff arraignment set for July 10 on felony charges in Gibson

    By Sarah Best, Jackson Sun,

    25 days ago

    Paul Thomas, Gibson County Sheriff indicted on 22 counts in two counties for engaging in misconduct to profit from inmate labor, is scheduled to be arraigned in Gibson County Circuit Court on July 10.

    His former court date of Sept. 16 has been moved up in the calendar due to the sooner availability of the new judge assigned to his case, according to Gibson County Court Clerk Cindy Flowers.

    Judge Mark Ward of Shelby County has replaced Gibson County Circuit Court Judge Clayborn Peeples, exclusively in the matter of the State of Tennessee v. Paul Thomas.

    Thomas has served as a witness and defendant in several cases during his tenure as sheriff. The presiding judge in many of them was Peeples.

    More: Tennessee sheriff facing 24 charges in 2 counties gets two new July court dates

    More: Gibson Co. Sheriff indicted on 18 counts of misconduct, inmate labor for personal gain

    More: Tennessee sheriff faces 22 charges in 2 counties, accused of profiting from inmate labor

    Indicted on May 6 in Gibson County, Thomas faces 18 felony charges of official misconduct for his role in exploiting inmate labor for personal gain.

    He was also indicted on May 2 in Davidson County and faces four counts of theft, computer crimes, and forgery. Davidson County charges include one count of theft of property over $60,000, two counts of computer crimes over $60,000, and one count of forgery over $60,000.

    More: FBI confirms search warrant issued for Gibson Co. Sheriff Paul Thomas’ home, other locations

    Thomas is scheduled to be arraigned in Davidson County on July 24.

    Allegations detailed in the investigative report from the state comptroller's office include:

    • In 2020, Thomas and a group of local investors created three for-profit businesses known collectively as the Alliance Group.
    • The three businesses provided staffing assistance to local businesses, housed current and former inmates at a transitional home called Orchard House and provided transportation to work release inmates and former inmates traveling to and from work.
    • Thomas directed a little more than $1.4 million in inmate wage fees and deductions to profit the Alliance Group from February 2020-October 2022, and at least 170 inmates in Thomas’ custody were employed by the Alliance staffing agency during the investigation.
    • Thomas, who held a 20% ownership interest in Alliance, received more than $181,000 in compensation, payroll benefits and legal representation services from the businesses, which the investigation claims came through inmate labor.
    • Thomas allowed 74 Tennessee Department of Correction inmates held in the Gibson County jail to reside at Orchard House without proper approval from a judge. The sheriff is accused of continuing to show the jail as the inmate location in the state’s offender management system, which resulted in the county collecting $507,273 in reimbursements from the state department of corrections that were disbursed to Orchard House without the state agency's knowledge or consent.
    • Thomas directed $448,637.09 of wages earned by inmates working for Alliance to be deposited into a private account owned and controlled by the Alliance Group instead of having their wages deposited into an inmate trust account.

    Reporters Craig Shoup, Andy Humbles and Nicole Young contributed to this story.

    Sarah Best is a reporter for The Jackson Sun. To support local journalism, subscribe to the Daily Briefing here .

    This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: Gibson County Sheriff arraignment set for July 10 on felony charges in Gibson

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