State officials agreed Thursday to visit Winn Parish Sheriff Alfred “Bodie” Little in jail to get his signature for a $32,000 loan that will keep his law enforcement agency running.
Little was in federal custody awaiting trial on charges, including malfeasance in office, when the state Bond Commission met Thursday to approve what is turning into a regular request for borrowing by the Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The Winn Parish Law Enforcement District took out budgetary loans in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and earlier this year.
Making the request to borrow money Thursday was Brenda Usrey, who started at the Sheriff’s Office when Little did and who is serving as acting sheriff in his absence. Little is accused of assisting his girlfriend with her methamphetamine business by pulling background information on buyers.
“This is four years and our sheriff’s in jail, and that’s not acceptable,” State Treasurer John Kennedy told Usrey.
Kennedy gave Usrey a homework assignment. He told her to outline why the agency routinely falls short of funds as well as a plan for getting finances under control. He said he wants the outline within two weeks.
Meanwhile, Usrey sparred with state Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, on her agency’s money woes. Fannin demanded to know why the agency was back for a second time this year seeking to borrow money.
“It’s a cash flow issue,” Usrey said, explaining that the agency depends on property taxes that produce little money between May and November.
“It sounds like a management issue,” Fannin retorted.
Fannin questioned Usrey about her staffing levels.
Usrey said she has five patrol deputies, including an investigator who also conducts patrols.
“Since Mr. Little has not been there, have you added anybody to your payroll?” Fannin asked.
“No, sir … Well, I’ve added one officer,” Usrey said.
“So you haven’t, but you have,” Fannin said.
Usrey clarified that she added someone to work every other weekend.
“With cash flow problems, you hire an additional person?” Fannin asked.
Fannin told Usrey to pick up the phone and call State Police if she needs help.
He said the sheriff’s incarceration puts the state in an embarrassing position.
“No one can sign for the note. Someone’s going to have to carry it to the jailhouse,” Fannin said.
Kennedy told Usrey that the agency cannot continue to just borrow money.
Usrey said she is trying to cut costs by laying off people and by closing a work release program.
The commission agreed to allow the district to borrow $32,000, enough to keep the office running until the commission’s September meeting.