GREENE COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - A 170-page investigative case file from 2014 when he worked for the Arkansas State Police sheds light on the work history of a former sheriff’s department lieutenant now facing federal charges for corruption
According to the file, obtained by Region 8 News, the case file involved Scott Pillow’s conduct while working with the Arkansas State Police.
Pillow pleaded not guilty earlier this month to a separate case during a court appearance at the federal building in Little Rock.
During that appearance, a Dec. 24 jury trial at 9:30 a.m. was set for Pillow, but that date was changed to June 15, 2020. The reason is to give the defendant more time to prepare his case for plea or trial.
Pillow’s attorney declined to comment to Region 8 News following the hearing.
As for the 170-page case file, authorities asked questions about Pillow’s truthfulness and conduct unbecoming an officer. The report noted that Pillow went to return two packages containing confiscated money in a 2011 drug raid to a person named Robert E. Lee Payne after charges against him were dropped.
Authorities said Pillow did not have another witness there during the exchange and that the money was not counted, which is protocol for law enforcement. Also, the exchange was not reported to Pillow’s supervisor at the time, Lt. Brant Tosh.
Authorities also said Payne and Pillow were interviewed; and that Payne said he discovered six counterfeit $100 bills in one of the bags when he counted the money.
Payne told Pillow about the phony money and Pillow reportedly told him to tear it up, authorities said. Pillow then reportedly gave Payne $600 from his personal account to make up for the counterfeit cash.
According to the case file, Pillow said he did it because he felt responsible and that he wanted to avoid an internal investigation.
As for the federal case, Region 8 News also obtained the affidavit against the now-former Greene County sheriff’s lieutenant.
According to the federal indictment, federal agents arrested Pillow in a public corruption sting.
The affidavit said on Monday, an FBI task force officer placed a glass pipe, similar to what narcotics are smoked in, and a partially opened red backpack containing $76,000, in 10 bundles of $7,600 each, in plain sight in an unattended rental car.
Then other task force agents called Pillow on his cellphone, saying they were Tennessee officers who needed help with a narcotics investigation.
The Tennessee officers said they had followed what they believed to be a "narcotics proceeds pickup," from Tennessee, into Missouri, and then into Paragould.
They told Pillow the vehicle they were following was abandoned in the Lowe's parking lot, but they couldn't investigate further because the vehicle was parked outside their jurisdiction.
The officers asked Pillow to help, and he arrived shortly after and searched the rental car, recovering the backpack and the pipe, the affidavit states.
The officers apparently met Pillow outside the vehicle and asked him before they left to let them know how much money was in the backpack once he counted it, according to the affidavit.
The FBI then monitored Pillow from the ground and air while he placed the backpack in his work truck, left the parking lot, drove to the sheriff's office in Paragould and then went into the narcotics office and evidence storage area, the affidavit said.
Hours later, the affidavit said, Pillow, called the officers and told them the money from the backpack had been counted and amounted to $45,600.
The affidavit states, "Agents believe that Pillow took four bundles of $7,600 from the original $76,000 totaling $30,400 stolen from the FBI funds, leaving $45,600 behind in the red backpack."
Later in the day, FBI agents saw Pillow drive his work truck to his home in Paragould, walk into a detached garage and then enter his home, according to the affidavit.
On Tuesday, the FBI and other law enforcement met at Pillow's home to execute a search warrant. The affidavit said the officers saw Pillow in his truck checking his mailbox on the edge of the property, next to the road, and "boxed him in" with their unmarked cars.
Arkansas State Police Officer Joe Pickett, who is also an FBI task force officer, identified himself and patted Pillow down, feeling “a large bundle” in Pillow’s right-side cargo pocket, according to the affidavit.
It said the object turned out to be a stack of money whose serial numbers matched the recorded serial numbers of the money the FBI had placed in the backpack the day before.
Pillow was arrested, while officers began searching the home, garage and Pillow's truck, finding a keyring in the truck that contained a key that unlocked a hidden safe inside a cooler in the attic of the garage.
Inside the safe, it said, were more bills whose serial numbers matched the recorded serial numbers of the money the FBI had placed in the backpack.
A search of Pillow's office turned up his documentation that he had seized $45,600 from a vehicle in the Lowe's parking lot in Paragould and that the cash had been stored in the evidence locker, the affidavit said.
FBI agents say they also found fake $100 bills in Pillow’s detached garage. The money had, "something to the effect of “for use in movie production.”
The statutory penalty for theft of government property is not more than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than three years of supervised release.
Pillow is due back in federal court on November 14, 2019, at 2 p.m.
In a release to Region 8 News Wednesday evening, Greene County Sheriff Steve Franks said he terminated Lt. Scott Pillow from his employment with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
Pillow was released from the Pulaski County Jail Wednesday, and was forced to surrender his passport and has a host of stipulations he must follow to stay out of jail.
- Must not violate any federal, or state law while on release
- Must cooperate in the collection of a DNA sample if it is authorized.
- Must tell the court of any change in residence or telephone number.
- Must appear in court, in Little Rock, as required.
Pillow was also ordered to stay away from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Arkansas State Police offices.
He must avoid all contact, direct or indirectly with any person who is or may be a victim or witness in the investigation.
Pillow is not allowed to drink alcohol, while out.
Pillow also told the court he does not have the financial means to provide his own private attorney.
HOW WE GOT HERE:
Region 8 News received an anonymous tip Tuesday about a home being searched in Oak Grove Heights. When our crews arrived, we observed numerous unmarked vehicles and people around the home. They appeared to be searching for something.
A few hours after the tip, Pillow was booked into the Pulaski County Jail with the investigating agency as the FBI.
PILLOW’S PAST REPRIMANDS AS AN ASP TROOPER:
Pillow, who is also a former Arkansas State Police trooper, was in trouble during his tenure with them as well.
- In 2014, Pillow was demoted for failing to perform his job duties “in a professional and competent manner.”
- According to information provided by ASP PIO Bill Sadler, Scott Pillow was demoted from sergeant to corporal after State Police Director Stan Witt found Pillow failed to perform his job duties “in a professional and competent manner.” A letter from State Police Director Stan Witt to Pillow stated, “you (Pillow) demonstrated conduct unbecoming when you suggested Robert Payne dispose of the counterfeit currency then retrieved it and replaced it with your own money; and that you did not follow evidence/property control procedures.”
- Pillow was suspended after a Jonesboro man’s complaint that he was unfairly slammed against a police cruiser by Lt. Scott Pillow in July 2017. The man said “He (Pillow) grabbed me and put me in handcuffs and said, ‘Mother [expletive] we got you now!’” Perry recalled. “I asked him ‘What did I do?’ and he said, ‘You know what the [expletive] you did!’ Then he slammed me on the trunk of his car.”
- Pillow was suspended 5-days without pay.
Sadler said Scott Pillow resigned from Arkansas State Police effective June 25, 2019.