by Karen Sherrell
IZARD COUNTY – Sixteenth Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Holly Meyer opened an investigation earlier this year after reviewing alleged discrepancies in the Izard County Judge’s office, as to the handling of equipment purchases and other items, during the term of David Sherrell.
Dennis Simons, Special Agent with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, initiated an investigation into allegations of theft of Izard County property committed by Sherrell, according to the Affidavit for Search Warrant filed June 2. Sherrell was the elected judge for three terms, six years, from 2011 to 2016.
According to Simons, during an interview with an Izard County Road Department employee, he learned of the purchase of tools from a Sharp County auction in 2015, some of which were allegedly taken to Sherrell’s farm. The auction was held by Arkansas State Trooper Darren Bates, according to the affidavit, following the death of his father. Bates confirmed the purchase of the tools by Sherrell, and payment by check from the Izard County Treasurer’s office issued to him in the amount of $3,500. Bates told Simons Sherrell did not provide him with any personal money for the tools.
The tools in question included, in part, a Champion Air Compressor, a Chicago 3/4 pneumatic drive with a full set of sockets, a bench grinder, shop press and other assorted miscellaneous tools to be identified by Bates. Simons visited the county shop and was unable to locate the described tools.
On May 31, Simons, along with Izard County Deputy Gabe Sanders and Trooper Bates, executed a search warrant signed by District Court Judge David Miller, on Sherrell’s property located at 1115 Tri Lakes Road in Oxford. Equipment and tools were seized matching the description of the auction items listed on the search warrant, and identified by Bates.
Property seized was a Chicago pneumatic 3/4 impact wrench, a one inch drive socket, three green gas measuring containers, a Craftsman toolbox, Flexible Flyer snow sled, miscellaneous PVC pipe fittings, bailing twine, paint supplies, propane wall heater, two antique Mobile brand gas cans, McCulloch Pro Mac chainsaw, sump pump, Craftsman rotary trimmer-router, navy illumination flare container, antique drill press, two metal saw horses, antique vice, axle with attached wheels, heavy duty tie-down straps, shooting bench rest, pipe threading tools, and miscellaneous plastic containers.
“These items are considered evidence,” according to the search warrant, “and/or fruits of the crime of theft of property.”
When Meyer requested the State Police investigation on Sherrell in February, she also requested an audit of the Judge’s office. Four state auditors conducted the audit for the period of time Sherrell was in office, according to Izard County Judge Eric Smith.
The investigation is still ongoing.