Former Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin was sentenced Thursday after she pleaded guilty to failing to file a personal income tax return for 2015.
A federal judge sentenced Franklin to probation. She walked out of the federal courthouse in Huntsville five hours after her sentencing hearing began Thursday morning. Franklin said she's ready to move on and thankful she won't spend time in prison.
Franklin had an apology for the people of Morgan County after she pleaded guilty to failing to file a personal income tax return in 2015.
"I'm sorry that this issue and my bad decision has caused so much mess. It has been very costly to me and my family. It wasn't intentional. I never had any intent of ever defrauding anybody of anything," she said.
It all centers around the controversial jail food law, which allowed sheriffs to pocket federal dollars they didn't use to feed inmates. The U.S. attorney said Franklin didn't claim $160,000 from the food funds as personal income.
"I'm glad that the truth of what the tax issue was has come out, and that we can be through with this and move on," she said.
"It's nice to know that the taxes that were due were zero. I did not fail to pay any taxes that I owed. I just failed to report them on time. When all of this stuff became an issue, it was confusing on how to file it," she said.
Franklin said the new law passed in the spring will prevent other sheriffs from going through this.
"I'm very glad that the inmate jail food law has been changed. That is something that never needs to be dealt with for a sheriff in Alabama again, so I'm very thankful that's been changed," she said.
Under the new law, sheriffs can't pocket the money. Instead, 75 percent of the leftover fund must be carried over into the next year. The other 25 percent can used for law enforcement purposes.
Franklin is now working at the National Crime Information Center, and said she did her best during her years as sheriff.
"I appreciate very much the opportunity to serve the people of Morgan County. I tried to do my best as the sheriff when I was there," she said.
She pleaded guilty to failing to file a personal income tax return for 2015. She received two years’ probation and 300 hours of community service. Franklin also has to file tax returns for 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as pay interest, taxes owed and penalties. She faced a maximum of 6 months in prison, 3 years’ probation and a maximum fine of $9,500.