BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) – Former Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington was charged multiple offenses Friday morning, including two felonies.
According to the special prosecutor assigned to the case, Cody Hiland, Pennington was charged with Abuse of Public Trust (felony), Theft of Property (felony), and Theft of Property (misdemeanor).
In the affidavit released by the Saline County Circuit Clerk's Office, the facts constituting the charges are:
- Abuse of Public Trust (felony): During an investigation, it was learned that a local businessman approached Pennington about having community service he got from a speeding ticket in White County moved to Saline County, which Pennington did and made it appear that the time had been paid. The businessman told authorities he didn't serve any community service time. Pennington then received granite countertops and a backsplash in the kitchen in his home in exchange for the favor.
- Theft of Property (felony): During an audit of the Saline County Sheriff's Office, Pennington was asked about a check that had been made out to the Sheriff's Office for $1,000. He said he cashed the check and gave it to the Fraternal Order of Police to buy protective vests. In a second interview, Pennington admitted to using the money for personal use.
- Theft of Property (misdemeanor): In an audit of the Saline County Sheriff's Office, it was determined that $5,610 was missing from the telephone kiosks located at the sheriff's office and the jail between Jan. 2013 and Nov. 6, 2013. It was learned from Jo Nell Mallory that she gave the money to Pennington to pay on his fines to the Saline County District Court. In an interview, Pennington stated he received from $700 to $800. He said he knew these funds came from the telephone kiosks.
Appointed prosecuting attorney Cody Hiland says more charges are likely around the corner.
"there are other law enforcement entities involved in this, it's multi-jurisdictional. So we're going to continue investigating. We're going to proceed with the prosecution with these charges, but again at the end of the day I think you'll have additional people and additional charges," said Hiland.
In a separate affidavit, Jo Nell Mallory, Chief Deputy/Finance of the Saline County Sheriff's Office is also facing charges of abuse of public trust and theft of property. The affidavit says Mallory made an agreement with a man for him to install tile in her home and not charge her labor, and she would pay off his fines. Also it states that Mallory admitted to taking between $2,500 and $3,000 from the telephone kiosks for her personal use.
Also charged is Mike Frost. In an arrest affidavit it explains his charges as illegal use of a communication facility (felony) and delivery of schedule I or II substance that is not methamphetamine or cocaine (felony). The affidavit explains that a confidential source said they had received various types of narcotics from former Lt. Mike Frost of the Saline County Sheriff's Office and communicated through text messages. Through an investigation with the FBI, authorities followed the informant home and watched Frost go to the informant's home and deliver two white pills, later determined to by oxycodone. The informant said they had been getting pills from Frost around 2012 and 2013 in exchange for other favors.
Lt. Scott Courtney with Saline County Sheriff's Office said they each faced the following bond:
Mallory: Signature Bond
Arkansas State Police is handling the investigation; THV11 will update this story with more information and details as they become available.