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story.lead_photo.caption Kelley Cradduck

The Carroll County sheriff rescinded his offer to hire a former Benton County sheriff who resigned last year and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor tampering.

Carroll County Sheriff Randy Mayfield said he made the decision not to hire Kelley Cradduck after getting a letter Thursday from Robert T. Rogers, Carroll County prosecutor.

"I feel it is incumbent upon me to state to you the obvious: hiring individuals who are charged with enforcing the law and who themselves have a criminal history is bad practice," wrote Rogers. "At the very least, it is certainly a disservice to the citizens of this county who depend on you to protect and to serve."

Rogers wrote it would be difficult for him to prosecute cases in which Cradduck was the arresting officer.

Even though Cradduck's criminal record was expunged, his criminal conduct would be "discoverable" under Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.1, wrote Rogers.

That rule states a prosecutor has to disclose to a defense attorney "any record of prior criminal convictions of persons whom the prosecuting attorney intends to call as witnesses at any hearing or at trial."

"Should you allow Cradduck to be involved in any case in any capacity, you are knowingly preventing proper prosecution of that offense from the outset," wrote Rogers. "This matter will be taken most seriously by this office."

Mayfield said Cradduck has 20 years of experience and probably would have made a good deputy, but it just wasn't worth the fight.

"You only have so much gunpowder and you have to pick when to use it," said Mayfield.

In a news release, Mayfield said he interviewed Cradduck on Tuesday. Since the charge against him had been expunged and Cradduck had a "wealth of experience," Mayfield decided to hire him as a patrol sergeant.

"As a matter of law, an expungment means that such conduct never occurred," according to the release.

But Mayfield changed his mind by Friday.

"Many have since expressed their concern about Mr. Cradduck serving with the [Sheriff's Office]," according to the release. "I have heard and respect these concerns, as has Mr. Cradduck. He and I spoke earlier today, and we both agree that it is in the best interest of all that he not be a deputy with the C.C.S.O."

Rogers said he was glad to hear of Mayfield's decision.

"I can't stress how we've got to be as above board as we can," Rogers said.

Mayfield said he told Cradduck he could hire him in about three weeks, after another employee leaves.

Mayfield said starting salary for a deputy in his department is $25,500 a year, but Cradduck would have made a little more than that.

Mayfield said he has trouble hiring qualified deputies and often loses them after training. Three of his deputies recently took jobs with the Eureka Springs Police Department and two went to work for the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

"They all said in their resignation letters it's money," Mayfield said. "It's a real struggle."

In Cradduck, Mayfield said he thought he found an experienced deputy who could help guide younger deputies. Mayfield said he has a responsibility for the safety of his deputies as well as the public.

"We're out there dealing with life and death situations," he said.

Rogers' letter to Mayfield also mentions Mayfield's hiring of Jesse Ray. Ray is a reserve deputy who has a criminal record but it's under seal, Rogers said.

Rogers' letter focused primarily on Cradduck, whose conviction "bears directly on his credibility," he wrote.

"Cradduck's involvement in any case will most certainly damage the ability to prosecute said case," wrote Rogers. "Furthermore, the presence of Cradduck in any position in the sheriff's office damages the reputation and credibility of the officers who may have impeccable pasts and qualifications. I have trouble understanding why you would ever damage your other officers and the people of this county in such a way."

As part of a plea agreement, a felony charge against Cradduck for tampering with public documents was dropped.

Cradduck was placed on unsupervised probation for six months and paid $670 in court costs. He resigned in April 2016, and the case has since been expunged.

Cradduck, who was seeking his third term in office, lost the Republican primary election the month before he resigned. Cradduck had said the allegations against him were politically motivated.

Arkansas State Police investigated Cradduck's hiring of Gabriel Cox to work in the jail and whether Cradduck ordered payroll records for Cox to be altered to show a hiring date earlier than when he started to work. The felony charge that was dropped involved Cox's hiring paperwork.

Cradduck previously said he wanted to help Cox, who was homeless, by hiring him to work in the jail. Cox lived with Cradduck at the time, according to court documents.

In a 4-3 decision in August, the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards allowed Cradduck to keep his certification to be a police officer.

NW News on 09/30/2017

Print Headline: Carroll County sheriff rescinds job offer to Cradduck

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