Saturday, June 23, 2018

District Attorney reponds to Sheriff Brown

Now that I am on my own personal time, I would like to respond to Sheriff Brown’s press release that he issued this morning. First, I would like to explain the origin of the messages.

I met Alex Shoumake while I was campaigning for DA. Alex came across as a shy and introverted person. He has a speech impediment and has mentioned that he is also on the Autism scale. He also had a love of sports and would occasionally write sports columns for a local paper.

After this initial meeting, Alex expressed to me how surprised he was that I would speak to him and listen to him and just be nice to him. From the beginning, he would text or instant message me multiple times a day, about a variety of topics. I came to trust him and spoke freely with him in what I believed were private conversations that would never be shared. I am ashamed to say, I was conned.

What I didn’t know was that Alex had a much darker side and was, apparently, screenshotting all of our conversations. I now can only assume that he did this in order to have some kind of leverage over me if he was ever caught at what he was doing. Those communications ceased in early November of 2017, after another state reached out to my office about some alleged conduct by Mr. Shoumake over the internet.

After this call, a search warrant was served on Mr. Shoumake’s home and all of the devices that could be located were confiscated. If I recall correctly, he never tried to contact me after that date. I won’t say more about that investigation as it is still ongoing. While that investigation was ongoing, Alex was arrested for Rape and Aggravated Kidnapping and is still in the Lawrence County Jail.

According to the press release, not only did Mr. Shoumake make those messages available to Chandler Anderson, he also made them available to Sheriff Brown. Also, I have been informed that, since Mr. Shoumake has been so helpful to the Sheriff, he has been made a trustee and has free reign inside the jail. Allegedly, he doesn’t even sleep in a cell and is able to make free phone calls, where other inmates have to pay to make phone calls. Shoumake is probably getting other benefits for helping the Sheriff that we don’t know about.

I would like to say that this is surprising to me, but it actually falls right in line with Sheriff Brown’s behavior that has resulted in his indictments. Shoumake is scratching his back and the Sheriff is scratching his.
The Sheriff of Lawrence County has teamed up with an alleged rapist and a seemingly deranged Nurse Practitioner in order to assassinate my character and attempt to save his own bacon! Let that sink in….

The Sheriff commented earlier today that I couldn’t respond to his press release because I had recused myself and my commenting would “violate the recusal”. I’m sure this belief gave him great comfort. Actually, the OPPOSITE is true. Because I have recused myself, I have nothing to do with the prosecution of the Sheriff or his Captain. In other words, I am just like every other voter in this county and can express my opinion accordingly. I now do so.

First, I reiterate that these texts were part of a PRIVATE CONVERSATION. In fact, I even say that it is “Strictly Confidential”. When I make the statement that the Sheriff “needs to GO.” In the other statement, where I say that I will work to help John “behind the scenes”, I meant that I couldn’t openly support Myers, publicly. This is because I am an elected official and openly supporting one candidate over another will always alienate some of your supporters.

You will almost NEVER see an elected official with the campaign signs for another race in their yard. This is why. Sheriff Brown knows, this. He’s been in politics a lot longer than I have. With that said, most, if not all elected officials will have favorites in other races and will quietly try to help them get elected. It happens all the time. Ask Jarvis Curtis. Neither of these messages are even the slightest hint of evidence that I was attempting to undermine an election or frame Sheriff Brown.

The TBI and the State Comptroller’s office investigated the Sheriff and they couldn’t care less who wins the next Sheriff’s race in this county. And I certainly don’t have the political muscle to make them do my dirty work. To assert that I framed the Sheriff is absolutely ridiculous and totally unbelievable if you have availed yourself to even a small fraction of the proof against him.

Now, since the Sheriff chose which messages to release, let me spend more time explaining exactly why I said those things, in private, back in the early fall of 2017.
First, I want to say that I am aware of much more activity that points to corruption in the Sheriffs dept. than what is in the Comptroller’s report. However, I will stick to things outlined in the report as it is public record. On another note, the Comptroller WILL NOT document anything in a report if they can’t back it up with documents and evidence.

In those messages I sent last year, I said “Jimmy Brown needs to go!” At the time of that text, the investigation had been under way for over 6 months. I had been updated regularly on the findings of the investigators, so I knew what was going on at the Sheriff Dept.

I had not recused myself at that time because the US Attorney’s office was also involved and I didn’t know if it would be a State or Federal prosecution. Once I knew it was going to be a State prosecution, I recused myself at the earliest opportunity. Since that time, I have made none of the decisions about how the case progressed.

The bottom line is that I said “Jimmy Brown needs to go!” Because I knew that Sheriff Brown was committing crimes related to his office.

I knew that Sheriff Brown was releasing inmates, even TDOC inmates to family on weekends and that those inmates were completely unsupervised and were allowed to use drugs and alcohol while out. To this day, I believe that ANY Sheriff that will allow that to happen NEEDS TO GO!

I knew that Sheriff Brown was reducing bonds for inmates to ROR or letting them “sign their own bond”. That’s right, if you were part of the right family and got arrested, all you had to do was have Dad call the Sheriff and he’ll have you out of their free of charge!!

Imagine being a deputy or an officer and risking your life to arrest and bring someone to jail only to have them walk out before you have finished your paperwork!! Because of what their last name is! Any Sheriff that allows that to happen NEEDS TO GO! I would be curious to know how many of those treated specially were African American or Hispanic…

I knew that Sheriff Brown was using inmates as free labor for personal benefit and for the personal benefit of his employees. I wonder what would happen to an inmate if he refused to go and work on someone’s private property. It is doubtful that any of these inmates felt they could refuse without repercussions. That’s awfully similar to slave labor in my book. Any Sheriff that allows that to go on NEEDS TO GO!

There was another incident when I was contacted by a citizen about the Sheriff. This person’s daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. The driver went to prison and had been released on parole. At that time, the driver was back in jail serving a parole violation. (a prison sentence)

The person was very upset because the driver had been made a trustee by Sheriff Brown and could be seen hanging out at the garage outside the jail when he drove by. The person had also seen the driver out at local events working as a trustee. It was very upsetting to this man that the man that took his daughter’s life was not only being housed locally rather than in prison, but he had enormous freedoms that most inmates don’t enjoy.

Hoping to help this person, I called Sheriff Brown and told him that this person was upset and that it didn’t look good that this inmate was a trustee. I urged Sheriff Brown to have the inmate transferred to TDOC as soon as possible. Brown’s response to me was, “I can’t do that. He’s too good a carpenter!”

When I made my statements about Sheriff Brown to Mr. Shoumake, I knew all of those things and much more. In fact, those are a small fraction of the Comptroller’s findings. Here is a link to the report. Read it for yourself. If you are still supporting Sheriff Brown, I urge you in particular to read it. If you don’t think there’s anything wrong with what he did, I can’t help that.…/ia/lawrencecountysheriff.pdf
When I was campaigning to be your DA, I talked to thousands of Lawrence Countians. By far, the overriding request I heard was “Are you going to do anything about the Good-Ole-Boy system in Lawrence County?” The people of this county were sick of seeing a select few chosen people acting as if they were above the law. I promised every one of those people that I would do everything I could to stop the corruption. And that is exactly what I am doing! My Dad always told me “Do the right thing, at all times, even if it’s not the popular thing.” I will always honor his words. Even if it costs me in my next election.

I almost forgot to address. I guess I have to plea guilty to this. I am biased. Extremely biased……AGAINST CORRUPTION. And I will always be so.

p.s. I have known John Myers for almost 20 years and have prosecuted his cases all my career. I also stand by the statements I made about him. 

Brent Cooper

District Attorney General, 22nd Judicial District



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