Gibson County Tennessee Sheriff Paul Thomas surrendered himself on Tuesday after facing 18 felony charges.


According to the indictments, between the dates of May 1, 2022, and October 31, 2022, Sheriff Thomas and Alliance Group, LLC, which is or was owned in part by Thomas, profited from the labor of six inmates: Anthony Bolding, Ronald Cravens, Jonathan Forrest, Mark Smith, William Vestal and Jeffrey Wyke.

Thomas is also charged with failing to see that all six inmates were properly guarded in order to prevent escape.

Thomas was indicted on May 6. He met with the staff of the Gibson County Sheriff’s Office Monday morning to inform employees of the charges.

The indictments stem from a 2022 FBI investigation involving Sheriff Thomas, the Gibson County Correctional Complex, the Orchard House transitional home, and Alliance Staffing. Federal agents executed search warrants at Thomas’ home in Milan, as well as the three other locations on September 1, 2022, seizing financial records and cell phones.

Opened in 2019, the Orchard House is a 100-bed, faith based transitional home located in Milan that allows male inmates or newly-released inmates a fresh start with a place to live and a full-time job. Residents of the Orchard House are employed through Alliance Staffing Group, a temporary job placement agency.

The Orchard House handled all of the money made by the residents, using the funds to pay court costs, fines, and other legal fees related to their involvement in the justice system.

The Orchard House is an approved Tennessee Department of Corrections transitional house. It is a 12-18-month program that consists of daily classes spaced out through the week on spiritual growth, work ethics and job training, community outreach and service hours. Food, shelter, transportation and assistance with supportive services and education and career goals are provided.

After the Orchard House opened, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee toured the facility and touted it as a model for the entire state.

The matter is being prosecuted by Stacey B. Edmonson, District Attorney General of the 21st Judicial District. Edmonson was appointed in May 2023 after the former District Attorney General Kim. R. Helper passed away unexpectedly. District Attorney General Frederick Agee recused himself and his office due to conflict of interest.