District attorney discusses Sumter sheriff corruption case

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SUMTER COUNTY, Ala. (WTOK) - 17th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Greg Griggers says he was surprised when former Sumter County sheriff, Tyrone Clark, pleaded guilty to eight corruption charges earlier this week.

"Really didn't have any anticipation that he would change his plea from not guilty to guilty just based on the very few amount of communication I had with his attorneys," says Griggers.

Clarke's guilty plea stemmed from a 2016 neglect of duty investigation. The DA's office agreed to drop the two remaining charges of human trafficking and perjury as a result of the plea deal.

"It wasn't the very best outcome that we could've gotten but I think that every time there's a plea deal you have to be willing to give up a little bit if you feel comfortable with what you're getting and that's what we did," says Griggers.

Clarke faces a maximum sentence of 32 years behind bars.

DA Griggers says it was never his intent to prosecute the former sheriff.

"Sending Tyrone to prison was never our goal. Removing him and getting him out of office because of what he was doing and not doing. Holding him accountable for the crimes he committed was important to us but we never sat out to say we wanted Tyrone Clarke to go to prison," says Griggers.

Clarke was impeached and removed from office by the Alabama Supreme Court in July 2016. Brian Harris was appointed sheriff two months later.

"We have an excellent sheriff now. Sheriff Brian Harris is doing a great job. The sheriff's department is doing very well. I think the community is behind him and supporting him and supporting him and we've got rid of what was just a really bad problem there in Sumter County law enforcement," says Griggers.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles will issue a pre-sentencing report on Clarke. Griggers expects Clarke to request probation.

Clarke will be sentenced January 9th.