Pickens County chief deputy arrested on theft charges

Jonathan Gann

CARROLLTON, Ala. (AP) — A west Alabama chief deputy who worked for a sheriff who pleaded guilty to federal crimes last month is now charged with theft and other crimes, authorities said Wednesday.

Pickens County Chief Deputy Jonathan Gann was arrested on charges of second-degree theft and misdemeanor evidence-tampering, officials told a news conference.

Gann was No. 2 in command under longtime Pickens County Sheriff David Abston, who pleaded guilty recently in a scheme involving food purchased for the jail kitchen.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that Gann was charged after an investigation requested by a prosecutor and Pickens County’s newly appointed sheriff, Todd Hall.

Hall received information that he turned over to the district attorney’s office late last week. District Attorney Andy Hamlin asked the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to conduct an investigation, which led to Gann’s arrest Tuesday.

“That investigation yielded facts and evidence that pointed to criminal culpability in regard to Chief Gann,” Hamlin said.

It was unclear whether the charges against Gann were related to Abston’s case.

Court records weren’t yet available to show whether Gann has a lawyer.

Capt. Jason Roberts of the state law enforcement agency called the investigation “very fluid” and said officials could not release details.

Abston, who pleaded guilty to fraud and filing a false tax return, was accused of scamming a food bank and church and pocketing leftover money meant for feeding inmates at the county jail.

Prosecutors said Abston got his church, Highland Baptist of Gordo, involved in the West Alabama Food Bank in 2014. Abston then wrote checks totaling some $80,000 over four years to purchase cut-rate food that was meant for the poor and wrongly used it to feed prisoners.

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