MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A former warden of a corrections facility in Mobile County could find himself behind bars if he's convicted of using his position for personal gain.
Deangelo Burrell was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.
It was the first time prosecutors have presented testimony in court about an alleged kick back scheme that lead to Burrell's arrest on felony charges in November.
State Investigator Leroy Dale described kickbacks totaling more than 21 thousand dollars. Dale also told the judge about what prosecutors believe was the illegal use of inmate labor, and state equipment by the Burrell.
"What I described in the courtroom was there was an audit that was conducted that we found that showed irregularities in the amounts of checks that was written to the inmates," Dale said.
Burrell was the warden of the County Work Release Center in Prichard for two and a half years. However, he is a 20 year veteran with the Alabama Department of Corrections. Burrell resigned last year when the allegations came out.
The investigator said as many as 15 former and current inmates were involved in the check chasing scheme. According to Dale the inmates would receive checks from Burrell, cash them, and then give half the money to the warden.
"I don't think my client has done anything wrong. The testimony or evidence the state presented today was based solely on inmates testimony, and the inmates were not present here," defense lawyer Michael Kaoui.
Burrell is also accused of using inmates to move a shed to his property. His lawyer called one witness who owns a furniture store. Ronald Duncan said he employs inmates from the center. According to Duncan he told the inmates to move the shed.
"It was delivered as a courtesy by the furniture store that he purchased other furniture at. He did not know who delivered the furniture, nor were there any benefits what so ever received by Warden Burrell as a result of the building being delivered," Kaoui said.
Prosecutors said if the case goes to trial, inmates involved in the alleged scheme have agreed to testify against the former warden.
Judge Charles McKnight says the case will be sent to a grand jury.
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