Friday, February 10, 2017

TOP STORY >> Ex-deputy took drug-deal cash

Leader staff writer

Former Lonoke County Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Branden Hampton, 36, of Ward was arrested on Wednesday by State Police and charged with tampering with public records, a felony, and theft of property of less than $1,000, which is a misdemeanor.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the alleged incidents occurred in June 2016.

Hampton has his first court appearance at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the Lonoke County Detention Center courtroom.

On Oct. 28, Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham requested the State Police to investigate Hampton regarding the potential theft of funds intended to buy narcotics and for potential forgeries allegedly committed by Hampton.

Hampton resigned in October when the sheriff’s office started the investigation.

State Police started its investigation into the allegations in November.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Hampton told his supervisor that a confidential drug informant stole $1,150 from a safe box in Hampton’s county vehicle. The money was then later recovered from the informant.

A Lonoke County detective reviewed the drug-buy fund records maintained by Hampton. He discovered a case number assigned in January 2016 to buy drugs was reassigned in June 18. A case number is not used again even if additional drugs are purchased at a later date from the same dealer.

The sheriff’s office had no information or a case file showing $700 was used to drugs or expenses and that money was missing.

Detectives gave State Police a copy of the drug-buy fund log and five receipts titled for narcotic funds. An informant, whose signature is on two receipts totaling $700 dated June 15 and June 18, told State Police he did not sign the receipts or buy narcotics for the sheriff’s office.

St. Vincent Medical Center in Sherwood provided State Police with admission records showing the drug informant was in the hospital from June 17 to June 24. Investigators said it was impossible for the informant to receive $700 on June 18 as the drug-buy fund log states.