Former Commissioner Jerry Craig Implicated In State Audit Of Embezzled Money

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Former Madison County Commissioner Jerry Craig was named and implicated in a state audit released Friday morning that alleges financial misconduct and theft of taxpayer monies.

The report by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts said Craig and his former secretary Deborah Kay Sims are jointly responsible for more than $176,000 of county funds that were improperly used and currently unaccounted for. The misconduct reportedly spanned an eight-year period from 2005 to 2012.

The audit states Craig and Sims did not attend a late February hearing to discuss the alleged misconduct, and that they would be held fully responsible for the money as a result. Sims was indicted on multiple felony theft and ethics charges earlier this week, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. She worked for Jerry Craig for more than two decades, and was fired last year after being confronted about several financial irregularities in a Madison County bank account.

The audit shows that more than $65,000 of the misused money was spent via debit card on “personal expenses” that included grocery store purchases and clothing items. Another $70,000 worth of cash withdrawals were improperly documented and subsequently deposited into a bank account primarily used for the annual Madison County Fishing Rodeo. Sources close to the investigation said evidence links Sims to a number of unusually large deposits and subsequent withdrawals that had nothing to do with the event.

WHNT News 19 first reported on the investigation in December.

Current District Three Commissioner Eddie Sisk said he contacted law enforcement after receiving a mysterious bank statement in the mail in late 2012, just weeks after he succeeded Craig.

“It’s a lot of money, and it took a lot of services away from the people in District 3,” said Sisk. “It tells me that they really didn’t care, it was taxpayer dollars, and it didn’t matter to them because it wasn’t coming out of their pocket…It’s hard for me to believe that it went on as long as it did without him knowing about it.”

Sisk said Sims’ husband, Alton Sims, was placed on administrative leave Thursday due to the findings of the audit. Alton Sims works as a laborer in the District Three office. The audit shows that Kay Sims wrote her husband a series of checks totaling more than $8,000, part of the $176,000 in question.

The State Examiner’s report also finds that Craig and Kay Sims are responsible for more than $1,300 in bank overdraft fees, and more than $400 worth of ATM fees.

34 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    Now who is surprised???

    Yet another Public official entrusted with our hard earned tax monies stealing freely for how long??? And many $10′s of thousands did he and his ‘buddies’ steal???

    And who else on the Commission is involved or has a similar yet-to-be-caught scheme going on to conceal their theft of the Public’s monies???

  • Skillpot

    Okay, Commission Chairman, Dale Strong, is it not time to pull back the ability of the districts to receive monies, and write checks? Is it not time to set up internal controls over the financial matters of the Madison County Commission? Let’s get on with implementing controls over the Commission!

  • Nuclear Mike

    And…who has been covering for ‘whom and why’ has to be asked of all current and living past Commissioners to really disclose the facts as to how much money has been illegaly taken from the taxpayers all these years!!!
    Yes, Dale Strong let’s see if you can live up to your last name and take the ‘strong’ hand in this…or is the FBI now needed???

  • Cynical citizen

    Oh Mr. Strong is guilty of misappropriation as well. Let’s hope it all comes out in the media soon….

  • tim

    An elected official implicated in stealing peoples hard earned money. Omg what a shock ! Time to hold crooked politicians accountable ……….

  • Disbelief

    I am so in disbelief about this. To know that Mr Craig would
    have any knowledge if this, much less be involved is so hard to understand. I do hope that it is resolved and he is cleared.

  • Traitor

    How bout when Strong 5 laned nance road…….. Could have 5 laned wal-Tirana but just so happens his dad’s house sits on nance road, so why not 5 lane nance and drive up the value of dad’s house!!!!

  • JackieO

    maybe its time to consider term limts for local offices. a bad man with a bad crew can do a lot of harm with 1 term, much less 7. i doubt we will ever really know what these folks stole.

  • Bartleby

    It’s going to take a while to clean up the democratic reign of corruption in Madison County, but this is another move in that direction. We just need to vote the few remaining demo-party hacks out of office.

    It’s time to clean up the democrat nepotism by getting rid of little Craig and little Hall .

    • alafan 2010

      Yea buddy it is all those sorry democrats . Lets see what falls out of your Republicans when the whole truth comes out.

  • Linda Huggins

    I’m just in shock. Jerry Craig taught me how to drive a car 43 years ago and Kay spent the night at my house more than she did at home. I pray that this isn’t true, but I have a sinking feeling it might be. I had a second cousin that was also a CC, and I knew a lot of things he did under the table. It’s past time to find a new way to handle revenue in the County government.

  • Jeff

    Well many of the employee at the county shop new craig was a crook but would not step forward.Why because their job was on the line.Oh sure Mr.Craig a local guy open and honest they say well if he was buying the barbacue

  • James Nunn

    I met jerry Craig 45 years ago , my feelings are he is a man that has been very good to me over the years. I’m saddened by all this . He did a lot of good things while he was in office and before he went into that office as a teacher and basketball coach . He’s helped a lot of kids over the years in those capacities! As far as the little Craig and little hall comment . Don’t really think we can bring them into this . Have known them my whole life . I think if we look at ourselves and deal with our own issues we really don’t have enough time to throw rocks at others. I hope this is all resolved and the right thing is done whatever that may be.

    • Nuclear Mike

      Well, being a good man does not include stealing from the tax monies of the Public who trusted him to be a “good man” in the performance of his official postion.

  • hunts

    Jerry Craig

    My problem is this… Why are the authorities not looking at all the other things that he did? Who is protecting him? Who is really involved in all of this? Craig has made the statement… If I go down, there will be a lot more go down with me. Who is MORE? We know of parking lots paved, track hoe is missing, farmers market used with no rent, county crews working for cash.
    The county-owned boat houses were rented. But there are no deposits on record. Guess where that money went? That’s right…Jerry Craig. The boat houses are in his district. All over the county he cooked barbeque for many people. The county bought the food, supplied the barbeque pits, and provided the labor… Guests were charged for each plate and Craig kept the money. The money all went in Jerry Craig’s pocket. He had cash hidden in every shoe and coat pocket in his closet.
    Where are all the barbeque pits that were built with county money? Jerry’s friends, relatives and colleagues in crime. How did he end up with a new Ford sedan that he is driving today? He traded in a brand new county car and took a different new one home for personal use after retirement.
    Maybe someone should ask the former county attorney some specific and strong questions.
    These accusations are only the start of the underhanded activities Jerry Craig has involved himself in. Where are the other implications and facts that are well known throughout District 3?
    Did anyone notice that there has been no mention of his long time affair with his secretary, Kay Sims Renfro who was arrested earlier in this matter? How about the numerous cruises they went on using county money? This is the woman who enabled his theft and corruption. They were in this mess together. He, she and all others involved should be held accountable. This little dab of money is only the tip of the iceberg. It is only the BEGINNING.
    The Ethics Commission, the FBI and the Attorney General need to look at what is really going on… All the way through the whole county.

  • sherry

    I have known Jerry Craig my whole life and I just can’t picture him doing anything like this. You tell me that there were no audits conducted during the time this was supposed to take place. Lets get real,if this was going on wouldn’t someone already caught it. Hold your head high Coach Craig. Those that know you will stand together with you.

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