Three Crittenden County cities under investigation

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

CRITTENDEN COUNTY, AR (WMC-TV) - Three small towns in Eastern Arkansas are under investigation after allegations of corruption and illegal activity. The towns are all within the borders of Crittenden County, Arkansas. Each have their own issues that are being investigated, but the allegations center around reports of gross money mismanagement.

It all started with allegations of corruption in Jericho. After Crittenden County Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley brushed aside the complaints, a reporter brought the matter to the attention of Second District Prosecutor Mike Walden. He promptly launched an Arkansas State Police investigation. Now he's adding the small Crittenden County towns of Turrell and Jennette to the investigation after repeated reports of illegal activity there as well.

In the city of Turrell, Mayor Franklin Lockhart is accused of moving the city's money into different bank accounts without the city council's approval.

A reporter asked the Mayor about the accusation.

"The council don't have to approve anything," Lockhart said.

Lockhart did not want to talk to us on camera.

Turrell City Council member Floyd Holmes says according to state law the city council is the governing body over the city's finances. But right now, he says, Mayor Lockhart is keeping them from doing their job.

"Here it is December and we haven't viewed any financial statements for all of 2009," Holmes said. "We have no knowledge of where the money is, it's jumped from one bank to another, and now it's jumped across state lines in Tennessee."

Holmes says he is grateful the State Police are finally investigating.

"We've been begging for someone to do something for the last two and a half years," Holmes said.

Meanwhile, in the tiny city of Jennette, population 124, as of 2000, the State Police are investigating the city's finances.

According to a report from the Legislative Audit Committee, sloppy record keeping is an understatement.

One example is that 24-thousand taxpayer dollars were disbursed without documentation, a violation of the state's ethic's laws.

We were unable to reach Jennette's Mayor.