Jailer at center of Cradduck investigation fired after arrest

Posted: January 3, 2016 at 5:28 p.m.

A Benton County jailer whose hiring in October is central to an Arkansas State Police investigation of Sheriff Kelley Cradduck has been fired after he was arrested and released in connection with drug possession, according to Cradduck and the Rogers Police Department.

Gabriel Cox, 19, was cited early Saturday morning in connection with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and for failure to register his vehicle, all misdemeanors, according to Keith Foster, a spokesman for Rogers Police.

Cox was one of three people in a vehicle stopped by Rogers police early Saturday. A juvenile boy, who Cradduck told other media outlets Sunday was his son, and Andrew Stoltman, 18, also were cited for misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, according to Rogers police.

Cradduck spoke to at least one television reporter Sunday at the jail. A Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter who was at the jail at the time and asked to be allowed in to the scheduled interview was told by a jailer that the sheriff didn't want to allow her in.

Cradduck confirmed Sunday by text message that Cox had been terminated as a detention deputy at the jail.

Cox’s hiring triggered the State Police investigation. The address Cox gave on his employment paperwork matches Cradduck’s address.

Capt. Jeremy Guyll and Lt. Robin Holt claimed earlier this year they were demoted because they refused to backdate hiring paperwork for Cox and because they had participated in the State Police investigation.

Sheriff Office employees told investigators on Oct. 6 that they had been told on Oct. 5 to hire Cox and backdate hiring paperwork to Sept. 28, the beginning of the payroll period, according to paperwork accompanying a search warrant served Nov. 5 at the Sheriff’s Office.

Cox told investigators his first day was Oct. 7, according to the search warrant. County paperwork released as part of the investigation shows he worked Oct. 7 and 8. Cradduck declined at the time to comment on his relationship with Cox.

Cradduck told investigators in October that Cox had been paid for orientation, according to state police documentation.

A Benton County grievance committee in November found Guyll and Holt to be protected under whistleblower rules, and Cradduck announced they would return to their former positions.

Cradduck confirmed via text message Sunday that Cox had been fired and that he had held a position of detention deputy, but did not answer when asked when Cox’s termination was effective.