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Is Wilcox County a Safe Haven for Criminals? – Editorial by Ethan Van Sice

By Ethan Van Sice

It’s been a year since D.A. Michael Jackson filed a request to the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts Chief Examiner’s Office concerning the $18,000 missing from the Wilcox County Probate Office and former clerk Shekita Jenkin’s alleged involvement. All evidence clearly showed 3 forged checks cashed in her name, or “made up” names, at the expense of hard-working taxpayers of this county. Circumstantial evidence also pointed to a highly suspicious timeline following the crime, which coincided perfectly with Ms. Jenkins plastic surgery expenses.

Public outrage ensued and an investigation began–but it hasn’t gone anywhere to my knowledge. Shekita Jenkins has still not been prosecuted, or even been charged to stand trial. She was terminated immediately from the position of Chief Clerk by then Probate Judge Jerry Boggan, whom she wasted no time attempting to “throw under the bus” and accuse him of the crime of theft of those funds from the Probate Office.

Jenkins was clearly unhappy with all the attention she was getting. It was not the glowing response she expected given the paid improvements she’d made to her figure. The focus quickly shifted instead to dollars and cents in the eyes of the public who’d apparently lost thousands because of her alleged embezzlement.

Facebook users were naturally outraged, this time for good reason. Jenkins responded to the social media outrage with threats of violence and legal action against all who disparaged her name before. She eventually deleted her Facebook page entirely. Since then, she’s fallen off the face of the earth. Out of the public eye, out of the courthouse, and seemingly in a safe haven away from the effects of the latest controversy.

It’s curious to me why no action has been taken by higher authorities to get to the bottom of this issue. Rumor has it that some sort of safety-net reimbursement at least gave the “missing money” back to the County, but that doesn’t negate the fact that a crime–and a very serious one–was committed. If Jenkins is not to blame, the public deserves an explanation on exactly who is.

If thousands of dollars were being spent from the public funds within the Probate Clerk’s Office, using checks made out to fictitious names, or going to undisclosed businesses, the public deserves to know why something like that can be allowed to happen.

It concerns me that Wilcox County is perceived to be a sanctuary location for wrongdoing. After all, although caught and convicted (far away from Wilcox County), some random dude from South Carolina came here to bury his murdered children. Is this a place where you can literally steal from the government and get away with it?

As an example from across the country, no time was wasted to prosecute a Chief Deputy Clerk from Boise, Idaho in 2017 for the very same crime. Rana Klinger was sentenced to 120 days in county jail with an additional 5 years probation after stealing thousands from the poorest of Boise County residents. The money came directly out of an Indigent Services Fund from a pool of 7,000 residences. Klinger was charged with two felony Grand Theft charges right off the bat, and local officials took major offense to the moral sins committed and publicly lamented on the “draining” effect it had on the community.

“This was no victimless crime,” the County said, and the damage was far more than just financial. They spoke of grief, heartache, frustration, stress, flagging morale and sullied reputations. “Distrust in one’s government has a cascading effect,” they said in the letter. “The effects of that distrust are directly felt by the people in elected positions such as ours.

Wilcox County has a steep hill to climb when it comes to trust in our government. As long as we allow things to get swept under the rug, that practice will continue until it’s regularly exploited and innocent people are taken advantage of. I’d hoped we’d grown out of this. In an area that’s made such drastic historical transitions towards civil freedom, protection, and transparency, it’s hard to believe we’d stay so silent on issues as serious as this.

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