Former commissioner arrested

A former Franklin County commissioner was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly purchasing 728 head of sheep and goats without having the proper funds to pay for the animals, officials said.

Gregory Wayne Smith, 45, 1905 Shady Grove Rd., Russellville, was arrested on the charge of first-degree theft by deception, Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said.

According to Oliver, Smith went to the Northwest Alabama Livestock Auction in Russellville on Nov. 30 to purchase the animals.

Oliver said Smith wrote two checks totaling $97,887.50 to purchase the 728 head of sheep and goats – most of which were purchased at two and three times the market value.

Oliver said Smith left with about 200 of the animals he had purchased with plans to get the rest of the animals at a later time.

However, when representatives of the Northwest Alabama Livestock Auction went to cash the check, they discovered there were insufficient funds to cover the purchases.

Oliver said once his office was notified, investigators subpoenaed Smith’s bank records and discovered that he did not have funds even close to what he had paid for the animals, but they also discovered Smith had gone to the bank on Monday and stopped payment on both checks before they could even be cleared.

Oliver said Smith was brought in for questioning on Wednesday and he allegedly made statements that indicated he had purchased the animals at a high price and never intended to pay for them.

Oliver said Smith allegedly stated he did it to “help the farmers” get a fair price.

The Northwest Alabama Livestock Auction was able to repossess the 200 head of sheep and goats Smith had taken with him, but Oliver said they are still stuck with an absorbent fee since the farmers had already been paid.

Smith is still in custody at the Franklin County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

Smith served as a county commissioner in Franklin County from 2008-2012. He did not seek re-election in 2012.

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