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Sheriff's Aide Accused of Taking Bribes by Commisary Private Contractor

Private prison scandals include not just prison operators but extend to all services provided in the state’s 246 county jail facilities. The most recent involves the commissary account at the Bexar County Jail.

According to recent reports, prosecutors are investigating the donations of Louisiana company hired to provide commissary. The District Attorney’s office claims that Premier Management Enterprises gave $27,500 to John Reynolds, the campaign manager for Sheriff Ralph Lopez.

Apparently, Premier wrote the checks as "donations" or "consulting fees" to charities and a private computer services firm. According to the reports, the jail commissary and one in the annex generates $2 million a year in gross sales. Not surprising since the sheriff’s reported that over 75,000 individuals are booked into the jail each year. According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, the jail was over current capacity levels -- in June the jail was at 102% of capacity.

At this time it is unclear if the Sheriff is a target of the investigation. But questions were raised in 2005 when Lopez acknowledged accepting a foreign golf outing to Costa Rica from Premier.

Lopez continues to support Reynolds and says that he will continue to be his campaign manager in the upcoming election. As this story continues to unfold it will be important to see how these relationships impact the management of the county jail.