JOHNSON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — In a statement on Tuesday, Johnson County Sheriff Jimmy Stephens said he owed an apology to citizens, public officials and employees at the sheriff's office after he was arrested on drug possession charges.
Despite those charges though, Stephens said he is "quite capable of defending" himself and that he intends 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," Stephens said.
On Dec. 3, the sheriff was arrested by state troopers after they found drugs and pills in his patrol vehicle.
"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."
The arrest stemmed from the FBI looking into Stephens in reference to a corruption and illegal drug investigation. The FBI asked the Arkansas State Police to pull over Stephens after they witnessed him leave a home they believed to be involved in their investigation, which belonged to a couple.
After he was pulled over for speeding, the troopers asked if he had anything illegal in his patrol vehicle. According to the affidavit, Stephens admitted to having three oxycodone and a small amount of marijuana and marijuana butter in his trunk.
He told state troopers that he was in Crawford County "visiting his confidential informants."
Stephens was charged with speeding, three separate counts of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drugs and firearms.
Read the sheriff's full statement below:
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.
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.
Sincerely, Sheriff Jimmy Stephens
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