Fulton County Judge Jim Kendrick resigns

County judge found guilty in theft case

SALEM, Ark. (KAIT) - Fulton County Judge Jim Kendrick on Thursday announced his resignation, nearly a week after a jury convicted him on a felony theft of property charge.

Kendrick submitted the resignation to officials around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I want to thank each and everyone for the opportunity to serve as your County Judge. I thank all of you that supported me and for your kindness. I feel at this time it is best for me and for Fulton County that I resign as Fulton County Judge. Therefore I am submitting my resignation as Fulton County Judge effective January 30, 2020 at 12:00 midnight,” Kendrick said in the letter. “Thank you and God bless.”

A jury found Fulton County Judge Jim Kendrick guilty of felony theft of property after a two-day trial in Fulton County.

According to Fulton County County/Circuit Clerk Vickie Bishop, the jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about an hour before finding Kendrick guilty.

Circuit Judge Tim Weaver presided in the case, while Eric Hance was the prosecutor. Gray Dellinger was Kendrick’s attorney.

Kendrick was fined $10,000 in the case.

Kendrick was arrested in Aug. 2019 after an investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

The investigation involved the use of county equipment to work on Kendrick’s private driveway, officials said at the time. Kendrick, who was elected in 2018, later was released on bond.

Officials said in a seven-page probable cause affidavit that the work was done in June, 2019.

“On June 11 through 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 affidavit noted. “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.”

According to the affidavit, Kendrick wrote a reimbursement check on June 18 to Fulton County for “road equipment, material and labor used for the work on his private driveway.”

“The check was written on Mr. Kendrick’s personal checking account at Simmons Bank and the reimbursement total was one thousand eight hundred and twelve dollars ($1,812) dollars,” ASP said in the affidavit.

ASP also interviewed Kendrick on June 24 about the driveway issue.

Kendrick told authorities that he had been busy with a series of projects and that he had heard from a neighbor, who said his own driveway nearby was having problems. Kendrick said he also heard from his wife about the driveway issue.

“While I was out there, I noticed my driveway was in rough shape and I knew I would have to take some time off 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,” the affidavit noted. “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 also told authorities he reimbursed the county for the work done, ASP said in the affidavit.

However, a pair of road department employees told authorities that they had never been asked to work on the driveway of a County Judge, ASP said.

NEXT STEP

Fulton County justices will be meeting at 8 a.m. Jan. 31 at the courthouse in Salem to approve a resolution, declaring a vacancy in the county judge’s office.

Justices could also appoint someone to fill the post, according to the resolution.

The person who is appointed will serve until Dec. 31, 2022.

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