For eight years, taxpayers were overcharged up to 100 percent for each breakfast served in the Hubbard County, Mn., jail, and Sheriff Gary Mills captured all the profits, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The practice, a holdover from the days when many sheriffs lived in their jails and their wives cooked for the inmates, ended last December, when the county started paying the company that was doing the jail’s lunch and dinner to also provide breakfast. Mills sued the county for lost income; the county filed a counterclaim for all of Mills’ accumulated profits, saying it hasn’t been legal for Minnesota sheriffs to make money feeding inmates for at least 30 years.
“People have tried to make it sound like something evil, but this is the way it was done in many rural counties going back decades,” says Mills attorney Steven Fuller. “One of the ways a county that liked their sheriff could pay him more was to give him something extra for providing meals.” It’s unclear how much Mills netted from charging the county up to $2 for breakfasts that he arranged for 50 cents to a dollar each.