JOHNSON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A sheriff in Johnson County, Arkansas, that was arrested on drug and weapons charges at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released a statement apologizing for the situation.
In a social media post, Sheriff Jimmy Stephens, 57, wrote:
As the Sheriff of Johnson County, Arkansas, I have the responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of Johnson County; to enforce the law; and more importantly to comply with the law. I have devoted myself to those goals over the past four years.
It has been widely reported that I have been arrested in Crawford County, Arkansas, and charged with a variety of crimes. I am quite capable of defending myself on those charges and fully intend to do so.
However, no matter the outcome of those proceedings, I recognize that I owe a sincere and genuine apology to the citizens of Johnson County, public officials of Johnson County, and more importantly to the employees of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for the embarrassment caused by this arrest. It is of special concern to me the impact that this has on the law enforcement personnel in Johnson County, Arkansas, as I recognize that they have an enormously difficult job which has probably been made more difficult by my arrest. For that I am genuinely sorry.
To this point I have been cooperative and transparent with the law enforcement authorities and intend to continue to do so.
As the duly elected Sheriff of Johnson County, Arkansas, I am legally obligated to perform certain functions of the Sheriff’s Office and I will continue to do so. However, in the best interest of the Sheriff’s Office and to cause the least disruption as possible, I am this date placing my Chief Deputy Jeremy Bennett in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office. I can assure you that Chief Bennett is quite capable of filling this role.
It is my full expectation, and hope and prayer, that these matters will be resolved promptly and that I will return to running the Sheriff’s Office in Johnson County in all of its divisions and activities.
I ask for your patience as this matter proceeds and for your thoughts and prayers for me and my family during this process.Jimmy Stephens, Johnson County Sheriff
Arkansas State Police (ASP) released an affidavit of probable cause stating that an ASP trooper was contacted by an FBI special agent “in reference to a corruption and narcotics investigation.” That agent wanted state police to stop Stephens after he left a residence they had been watching.
On Dec. 3, troopers watched Stephens leave that residence and head south on Highway 71 in his Johnson County patrol car. A trooper observed Stephens speeding and initiated a traffic stop north of Alma.
The trooper explained the reason for his stop, asked Stephens to remove his service weapon and leave it in his car, then asked him to exit the vehicle. When asked why he was in Crawford County, Stephens replied that he was visiting his confidential informants. When asked if he had anything illegal in the car, Stephens admitted to having controlled substances.
Stephens was handcuffed and taken into custody, and a search of the vehicle turned up three oxycodone pills, two hydrocodone pills, a small amount of marijuana and approximately nine ounces of marijuana butter.
Stephens was charged with speeding, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms and three different charges of possession of a controlled substance.
Stephens was re-elected as Johnson County Sheriff last month with nearly 62% of the vote. He was released from jail on a $25,000 bond on Dec. 4.