|Updated: 8/21/2012 10:24 pm
||Published: 8/21/2012 11:00 am
A Faulkner County public official accused of taking nearly $4000 worth of taxpayer funds and using it to pave his driveway. Now, county administrator Jeff Johnston faces a felony theft charge but he tells FOX16 he has no plans to resign.
"I've done nothing wrong, why would I quit,” Johnston says. “I'm not going to take a plea bargain, I'm not going to back up from this one bit."
A defiant Jeff Johnston spoke to FOX16 just minutes after being released from jail Tuesday afternoon on a theft charge.
The county administrator is accused of charging $3,859.54 worth of asphalt to the county back in 2008 to pave his 538’ long driveway in Mt. Vernon.
Faulkner County prosecutor Cody Hiland made the criminal filing Tuesday after federal authorities investigated the case but declined to file charges.
"Anytime you have a public servant who is alleged to have taken money from the public coffers, it undermines the public trust," Hiland says.
The entire investigation got rolling when a neighbor said they noticed asphalt trucks at the house, thought it didn't add up and contacted the sheriff's department."
"We're not going to have two sets of rules,” Hiland says. “We're not going to have rules for those who are connected and then a set of rules for John Q citizen. We're going to treat everybody the same under the law."
But this afternoon, Johnston, speaking to FOX16 News alongside his attorney Joe Don Winningam says he didn't break any rules.
"Those people will have to follow this case to the end and see whether their taxpayer dollars were spent properly or improperly. Reporter says: "You can just tell me now if they were, right?" Jeff Johnston says: "We're innocent, I mean, I’m innocent of this charge. There's no question about it. And as Joe Don said, I look forward to going to court and seeing this through."
Faulkner County judge Preston Scroggin calls the charge "pure politics" and that Johnston will stay on the job while he defends himself against the theft charge.