Friday, November 27, 2009

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XLI): A sheriff on both sides of the law

A front-page headline in the November 19, 2009 issue of the Newton County Times reads, "Former sheriff sentenced," and it reports that 60-year-old Jerry Lynn Jones, formerly the county sheriff, will serve eight months in a federal prison for receiving disability benefits while failing to disclose earnings from self-employment between 1997 and 2007. The federal judge handling the matter also ordered Jones to pay restitution of almost $109,000, as well as a $3,000 fine. The story does not indicate whether the period during which the fraud was committed coincided with the time that Jones was Newton County Sheriff, though it presumably did not given Jones's receipt of disability payments. It would be interesting to know whether Jones's position as sheriff or former sheriff had anything to do with bringing this fraud to the attention of federal authorities.

In other law enforcement news, a story on the back page reports that a big rig stolen in Missouri wound up in Newton County after the man who stole it led law enforcement officers on a chase that ended there. Even after the truck became disabled, the driver fled on foot but was soon apprehended.

The November 5, 2009, edition of the Newton County paper reports on another alleged criminal's efforts to elude law enforcement. The headline is "Manhunt ends with arrest," and it tells of David Middleton's escape from custody. Apparently Middleton and his wife were both handcuffed and placed in custody while law enforcement officers (a multi-agency effort) executed a search warrant at their residence in Mt. Judea (not even a Census Designated Place). Middleton, who at the time was free on $5,000 bond in connection with previous criminal charges, escaped unnoticed during the search. He was located several hours later. Meanwhile, the search resulted in confiscation of firearms and vehicles with VIN numbers that appear to have been altered. Middleton and his wife are also facing new charges of methamphetamine delivery.

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