Fulton County Judge facing theft of property charge

Fulton County Judge facing theft of property charge
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SALEM, Ark. (KAIT) - Fulton County Judge Jim Kendrick was booked into jail early Thursday by Arkansas State Police after an investigation into theft of property involving the use of county equipment to work on his private driveway, authorities said.

Kendrick, of Mammoth Spring, faces one count of theft of property in connection with the case.

According to Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler, Kendrick, who was elected in 2018, was released under bond set by the court in the case.

A seven-page probable cause released Thursday afternoon provided some details about the ASP investigation.

“On June 11 through June 12 of 2019, Mr. Kendrick used Fulton County employees and equipment to work on his private driveway. Mr. Kendrick had one road grader and two dump trucks perform the work. The employees were not on vacation time and were being paid by the County of Fulton for the work during this time. Mr. Kendrick had 18 loads of fill dirt placed on his driveway and the road grader smoothed the driveway for him,” the affidavit noted. “On June 18, 2019, Mr. Kendrick wrote a reimbursement check to the County of Fulton for road equipment, material, and labor used for the work on his private driveway. The check was written from Mr. Kendrick’s personal checking account at Simmons Bank and the reimbursement total was one thousand eight hundred and twelve ($1,812) dollars.”

ASP investigators also went to Kendrick’s home June 24 and took photos of the driveway, showing the newer fill dirt, the affidavit noted.

KENDRICK INTERVIEW

Authorities also interviewed Kendrick June 24 at the Fulton County Road Department in Salem.

Kendrick told investigators that he had been operating under a state of emergency since taking office due to “things have been so bad. I have a lot of projects I am trying to fix for the County of Fulton. There have been major changes to a lot of things around here and I have been very busy.”

Kendrick also told ASP that he had received a call from a neighbor around four weeks before the incident took place.

“I received a call from my neighbor and he said the water was washing out his driveway. I went out and looked at his place to see what the problem was. I told him I would fix the problem for him, but I told my employees not to pull any ‘hot spots’. I did this because he watches our equipment when it is parked in front of his house,” the affidavit noted. “While I was out there, I noticed my driveway was in rough shape and I knew I would have to take off some time to fix it. I had a lot of irons in the fire and things going on. My driveway was so bad that my wife could barely get the car down the driveway. I told ‘Hip’, an employee who has been working for the county for approximately 25 years, that I would let him on my driveway. I told him not to make a special trip, not to pull off any ‘hot spots’ and to account for every penny he spends working on my driveway.”

Kendrick said he also reimbursed the county for the work done, the affidavit noted.

ROAD DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES INTERVIEWED

According to the affidavit, ASP also interviewed four Fulton County Road Department employees about the work done on Kendrick’s driveway.

The employees - described as Road Employee #1, Road Employee #2, Road Employee #3 and Road Employee #4 - each said they were longtime employees with the department.

Employee #1 said they ran a road grader for the county for over a decade and drove a dump truck for a few years.

“Over the last 13 years, I have never done work on a County Judge’s personal property or have been asked to do any work. I have never done any work for a County Judge on my day’s off or been asked to. This was the first time I have even been asked to work on a private driveway of a County Judge,” Employee #1 told ASP investigators.

Employee #2, who has worked with the county for 20 years, said the same thing, the affidavit noted.

“I have never done work for a County Judge in the past on their personal property or been asked. It is not common place to do work on a private drive, but we will if the public needs help,” Employee #2 said.

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