Ark. Prosecutor Target of Computer Hacking Probe

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A special prosecutor says he will look into an allegation that a Benton County deputy prosecutor hacked into the computer of a former chief deputy. H.G. Foster of Conway confirmed his appointment, but would not comment on what charges might apply if he determined that Deputy Prosecutor Drew Ledbetter illegally accessed the personal e-mail of former Chief Deputy Shane Wilkinson.

Wilkinson, who resigned unexpectedly in August, is now in private practice. Ledbetter, who is on leave because of the birth of a child, declined to comment. His boss, Prosecutor Van Stone, emphasized that Ledbetter has not been charged with a crime. The investigation began when Wilkinson informed County Attorney Robin Green that he believed someone from the county was accessing records without authorization.

According to a court order, Green, Sheriff Keith Ferguson, and Wilkinson told the prosecutor of the allegation, and Stone asked that a special prosecutor be appointed. In Arkansas, computer trespass is a misdemeanor on a first violation that does not cause any loss or damage.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)