Lubbock County renews a contract with a company indicted for bribery.
County Commissioners approved the first of four, one-year contracts with Mid-America Food Services Monday morning. Commissioners Bill McCay, Patti Jones and Mark Heinrich voted in favor while Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez voted against it.
However, despite a pending court case against the company that provides food for Lubbock County inmates, the county says it is still the best option. "There are only about three companies in the country that provide this type of service. We've used the other two companies and had a number of issues," Commissioner Bill McCay said. "They've done everything we've asked them to do. They've met the letter of the contract."
Last month, a jury found former Potter County Sheriff Mike Shumate guilty of accepting bribes from Mid-America Services. Prosecutors say it was in exchange for a food vendor contract with the Potter County Jail.
Felony charges are still pending against the company and its president, and that concerns Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez. "The people of Lubbock County have indicated to me," Gutierrez said. "That they would feel uncomfortable doing business with a company that has such serious allegations."
However, Commissioner McCay says there is no ongoing investigation in Lubbock County that he is aware of at this time. "If that were to change that would also change the scenario. But at this point in time they're doing what we're asking them to do," McCay added.
Currently it costs 76 cents for a tray of food. But under the newly approved contract, that price will increase 3 percent. In addition, once the new jail opens in April, Mid-America services will move the operation to the new location. It's a cost, which already has been budgeted.
Lubbock County Sheriff Chief Deputy Kelly Rowe said, "the only increase will be due to the volume of inmates increasing." He adds, it will go up as we bring back all of our out of county inmates.
The trial for Mid-America Services and its president is expected to start September 5th in McKinney. If the company is found guilty, we are told Lubbock County will take another look at the charges and re-examine their contract process.
Potter County Decision Does Not Change Lubbock County Jail Food Service
Prosecutors say Mike Shumate accepted bribes from the Potter County Jail's food vendor, Mid America Services Inc. So now, many are asking, with this verdict will Lubbock County continue to do business with Mid-America Services?