- Associated Press - Saturday, May 17, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Prosecutors in Arkansas say former Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington took money from inmate calling-card kiosks to pay his own court fees stemming from his alcohol-related convictions.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1gd2tlL ) that the three-term sheriff was one of three former Saline County sheriff’s office employees arrested Friday after concerns were highlighted in a legislative audit. The audit found that the sheriff’s office used designated funds inappropriately and failed to account for thousands of dollars.

Pennington, 63, and Jo Nell Mallory, 60, the former chief deputy of finance, are charged with abuse of public trust and theft of property, both felonies. Pennington also faces a misdemeanor charge of theft of property.

A third former employee, Mike Frost, 59, who was the lieutenant over the criminal investigation division, was charged with illegal use of a communication facility and delivery of a controlled substance, also felonies.

Neither the ex-employees nor their attorneys could be reached for comment. Pennington did not answer a call and his voice mail wasn’t set up. Telephone numbers for Mallory and Frost were either disconnected or out of service. It was unclear Friday who their attorneys were.

According to arrest affidavits, Pennington acknowledged to Arkansas State Police investigators that he took between $700 and $800 from Mallory to pay his fines to the county district court.

Pennington stated he knew these funds came from the telephone kiosks,” the affidavit states. The money from the kiosks, a total of $5,610, was missing from Jan. 1 to Nov. 6, 2013.

Benton police arrested Pennington July 29 after spotting an intoxicated man getting into a vehicle at a restaurant and bar that has since closed. Pennington was sitting in the driver’s seat.

He was convicted in August of public intoxication and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, and was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation, according to court documents. He also was ordered to pay about $3,300 in court fees and fines. Those fees were paid off, documents show.

After the conviction, Penningon repeatedly changed his mind about resigning as sheriff but then decided to leave Oct. 1. He also was one of seven Republican candidates running for sheriff this election cycle, but dropped out of the race because of health reasons, he has said.

With Friday’s arrest, Pennington also is accused of accepting free countertops in his Benton home in exchange for voiding a man’s community service, according to the affidavit.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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