Despite recent allegations of tax fraud, Alvin Cummins is returning to work at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Earlier this month, the Waddy resident and his wife, Jennifer, were indicted for allegedly providing false information on tax returns from 2013 to 2016, Shelby County Commonwealth’s Attorney Laura Witt told The State Journal on Friday. Upon learning of the indictment, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton initially suspended his chief deputy without pay.
On Thursday, he had a change of heart.
Saying Cummins is entitled to due process, Melton told The State Journal that while Cummins will be stripped of his title and law enforcement authority, he will return to the office Monday to perform administrative duties.
“Right now, in my opinion, I’ve got an employee that’s done a fantastic job,” Melton said of his longtime colleague. “He’s never, ever lied to me and he’s declaring his innocence in this. He has stated he knows nothing about it.”
The recent indictment is not the first time Cummins has been accused of wrongdoing. Records show state and federal investigators were alerted to Cummins as early as 2014 by former colleague Matt Brown.
From May 2007 to December 2012, Brown served as a deputy in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, rising to chief narcotics officer. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to stealing a diamond ring and Tag Heuer watch seized in a drug raid and later selling the ring back to the suspect. He was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison and two months of home incarceration. He has since been released.
Other charges in Brown’s indictment — including wire fraud, distribution of anabolic steroids and making false statements to a federal agent — were dismissed as a part of a plea agreement.
A summary of an interview Brown gave to lawyers and investigators on Dec. 9, 2014, was obtained by The State Journal through an open-records request to Kentucky State Police. The document reveals that some of the information Brown divulged as part of that plea agreement involved Cummins. No federal charges have ever been brought against Cummins.
Brown told lawyers and investigators that he once gave Cummins $3,500 in seized drug money.
“Upon splitting the drug money, Brown stated they had conversations discussing the fact that they would never tell anyone and knew not to text about it,” states a summary of the interview or “proffer session.”
In federal cases, such statements are typically not given under oath, but information obtained through them can only be used against the interviewee if he or she is caught making a false statement. Lying to a federal agent is punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to the statement, Brown told assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins, FBI Special Agent John Whitehead and KSP Sgt. Mark Burden that Cummins had agreed years earlier to vandalize Brown’s Toyota Camry as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Brown said he paid Cummins $300 for his role in the alleged fraud.
Brown further accused Cummins of purchasing steroids from him.
“Referencing his review of Cummins’ statement, Brown claimed Cummins lied regarding the time period he claimed he bought steroids from Brown as Brown claimed he had repeatedly provided him with steroids within the last five years (Cummins claimed he only purchased from Brown for approximately 18 months around 2008),” the summary states.
In an emailed statement, Melton, who first became sheriff in 2011, said he had never before seen the summary of Brown’s statement. He referred The State Journal to those present for the interview as well as to Cummins’ lawyer, Brent Caldwell.
Cummins declined to comment and his lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“I have confidence in the FBI and KSP that if these allegations were substantiated in regards to Matt Brown’s allegations, I am sure that the appropriate actions would’ve been taken at that time in 2015,” Melton wrote.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Melton maintained that Cummins’ recent indictment has “nothing to do with the sheriff’s office.”
On Friday, Shelby County Commonwealth’s Attorney Witt said she did not rely on the KSP or any allegations made by Brown in making her case and that the sums involved in the alleged false tax returns were “more than $3,500.”
Cummins is scheduled for arraignment in Shelby Circuit Court on Monday, March 5.