January 13, 2004 — Posted at 5:30 p.m.
POPLAR BLUFF, MO—A Region 8 Sheriff is being investigated on 5 counts of possible criminal activity.
Butler County Missouri Sheriff Bill Heaton is being accused of possible obstruction of justice, receiving stolen property, illegal use of prisoner labor felony stealing, and felony stealing of seized property.
These allegations surfaced earlier this week, when Deputy Mark Dobbs delivered a letter to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office, asking that the Sheriff be investigated. Dobbs was fired an hour later.
He claims the Sheriff obstructed justice by halting an investigation involving stolen food items that came to the county jail. Dobbs also alleges the Sheriff used inmates to upkeep his personal property, and that he stole donated tires and wheels from the D.A.R.E. Program Van for his own personal use.
Sheriff Heaton didn't want to speak on camera, however he told K-8 News that this was a big slap in the face, and he didn't see it coming. Heaton, who served from 1990 to 1992, and then again in 1997 to the present day, also says he has no plans of resigning. In fact, he plans to run for re-election this year.
As for the investigation, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office turned it over to The Missouri Highway Patrol.
"We don't know how long it's going to take at this point, because we're just breaking into it," said Sgt. Plunkett with the Highway Patrol.