Former police chief given probation for forgery, theft - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Former police chief given probation for forgery, theft

former Caruthersville Police Chief Chris Riggs (Source: Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department) former Caruthersville Police Chief Chris Riggs (Source: Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department)
Caruthersville Police officer Marcus Hopkins (Source: Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department) Caruthersville Police officer Marcus Hopkins (Source: Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department)
KENNETT, MO (KFVS) -

A former Caruthersville police chief was given five years supervised probation Thursday plus restitution on forgery and theft charges.

Authorities say Riggs and another Caruthersville officer, Marcus Hopkins, are accused of stealing more than $25,000 from the city's criminal investigation fund dating back to June of 2009.

Riggs is accused of writing checks to Hopkins out of the fund between June 3, 2009 and August 29, 2011.

According to court papers, the two conspired to forge receipts to an account for missing money from the criminal investigation fund.

Riggs is accused of writing checks to Hopkins out of that fund, then forging Hopkins' signature and cashing them.

The city requested a Missouri Highway Patrol investigation of irregularities in records relating to the city's Criminal Investigation Fund.  That investigation led to criminal charges against Riggs and Hopkins.

The Missouri Highway Patrol Drug and Crime Division conducted the investigation.

Both men were arrested in October 2011.

Hopkins was previously given three years supervised probation.

The case was moved to Dunklin County on a change of venue.

Thursday morning, the Judge cited numerous letters from the community and members of law enforcement including current Chief Tony Jones, who spoke of Riggs' character and asked for leniency. 

Chief Jones says he wrote the letter because he believes everybody deserves a chance. He said as long as Riggs makes it right with God and the citizens of Caruthersville he stands by his words. And whether or not he spends time behind bars, Jones says it is not his decision. 

Friends of Riggs also spoke on behalf of the former police chief. Some people in Caruthersville say in spite of the conviction, the former chief stole more than $25,000 through a check forging scheme, and they still believe in him. 

"Because I've known Chris since he was a very young man," said Bettie Cronan. "I knew him in police work before he was chief of police over here. I admired him then, and I admire him now." 

Caruthersville Mayor Diane Sayre said she respects the Judge's decision, and is happy to see Caruthersville moving forward. 

The community had mixed reaction to the news.

"As a soldier, we would have been put in the brig," said Jamie Lee Rogers of Caruthersville. "For him to get five years probation, I think it was a little easy. He got off with a slap on the hand."

"If it were me, I would have got five years and five years probation," said Aint Itmane of Caruthersville.

"If Chris was guilty of anything at all, and I mean anything at all, then I think five years would be admirable time," added Cronan. 

Heartland News spoke with Chris Riggs after court and asked him if he wanted to thank the community for writing those letters on his behalf? 

He and his lawyer said they have no comment at this time in light of the probation that still must be served.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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