Friday, January 20, 2017

TOP STORY >> Probation officer caught in sting

Mark Brooke, Ward’s probation officer, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly soliciting prostitution from an undercover officer posing as one of his probationers.

He was charged with sexual solicitation and theft of services. He was released from the Lonoke County Detention Facility on a $1,000 bond about 7:45 p.m., five hours after his arrest.

He is the son of Mayor Art Brooke and a pastor at Cornerstone Assembly church. The mayor said Friday his son is on paid leave and may be reassigned to a different department.

The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office set up the sting after receiving complaints about Brooke’s conduct.

“An undercover detective was set up as a probationer and assigned to Brooke. (He) made lewd and inappropriate comments during the initial contact and subsequently made arrangements for sex for money with the undercover detective using his city-provided cell phone,” according to the sheriff’s office news release.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with more information or additional allegations about Brooke to call Lt. Matt Edwards at 501-676-3000 or email

“It is never good when someone in a position of authority takes advantage of those in difficult situations. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Sheriff John Staley said.

Cabot’s probation officer was arrested in May for similar misconduct. In that case, Jeffery Everetts, owner of CS Background Inc., a private contractor that provided probation oversight services to offenders in Cabot, was charged with attempted sexual assault. He was fired, and his trial is set for Feb. 23.

The Leader interviewed Brooke in June soon after Everetts’ arrest.

Brooke, 53, said he was paid $12.35 an hour and earned $25,688 in 2015.

Brooke said then that he helps probationers find work with local employers such as Goodwill in Cabot.

District Court Judge Clint McGue said Thursday, “Probation will continue under different personnel. The situation is unfortunate. We are as surprised as everyone else and still trying to gather information. Probationers still need to report to Ward court clerk’s office. We’ll figure out a way to make a quick transition.”

The mayor is Mark Brooke’s supervisor, McGue said. The mayor would have to re-instate him if his son wanted to return to the probation office.

McGue was elected in November and went on the bench Jan. 1 and is just starting to settle in to his new job and learn about his caseload.

It is unclear how many women the younger Brooke was responsible for tracking as probationers.

He has worked for the city for 13 years and has been its probation officer for nine years. Before that he worked two years in parks and recreation and two years in the street department.