Detention Officer Fired in Faulkner Co. after Arrest

Two others also jailed in alleged detention bond scheme


FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. -- A tip to investigators about an inmate's plan to escape the Faulkner County Jail ends with a detention officer and a bail bondsman joining the inmate behind bars.

Online court documents state that detectives got intercepted information about the conspired escape on jail phone calls. 

The Faulkner County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) said the inmate never made it out the front door. 

As a train rolled through the heart of Faulkner County Monday, so did the news about the three arrests. 

Alexa Vetsch works in downtown Conway. 

She said, "It was definitely a complete surprise that something like this is happening in Conway, Arkansas."

While she works she learned that just the day before a detention officer, a bail bondsman and inmate got arrested. 

Vetsch said, "It's completely unethical and misuse of (the) job."

The three are accused of trying to help the inmate escape jail. 

We met with the public information officer Adam Bledsoe with the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office Monday.  

"Just want the public to know we expect professionalism from our staff and when it doesn't happen we react to that," Bledsoe said. 

He told us the detention officer 21-year-old Robert Ellis was immediately fired after inmate 25-year-old Glen Toney tried to walk out of jail Sunday. He didn't. Both men ended up in handcuffs and so did 60-year-old bail bondsman Margaret Cockrell. 

Bledsoe said, "Probable cause to believe that the detention officer manipulated the booking paperwork without no bond either one away one was deleted or missed or something along those lines."

According to the jail's website, Toney was booked almost a year ago into jail. It shows he's facing a laundry list of charges. Bledsoe said the inmate was in on a charge with $100,000 bond as well as a charge with no bond. 

"That means even if he was able to bond out of the $100,000 bond he still had a no bond issued by the court," he explained. 

The sheriff's office said Ellis helped the inmate out and Cockrell helped bail the inmate out, but not before investigators knew about it. 

Alexa said, "Hopefully with this problem, we will use this as an opportunity to grow and make our system better."

The FCSO said the bondsman worked for Ben's Bail Bonds. We were unable to reach anyone at that business for a comment. 

Ellis, the now former detention officer, bonded out of jail Monday afternoon. 

The other two still sat behind bars Monday night. 

Original story:

CONWAY, Ark. - A Faulkner County detention officer, a bail bondswoman and a detainee have been arrested in the investigation of manipulation of booking paperwork.

The Faulkner County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) says investigators on Sunday afternoon arrested Faulkner County Detention Officer Robert Ellis, 21, and bondswoman Margaret Cockrell, 60, of Ben's Bail Bonds, at the Faulkner County Detention Center Unit 2. Ellis was immediately terminated from his job with Faulkner County. 

An FCSO news release issued Monday states that investigators were tipped that Ellis was working with detainee Glenn Toney, 25, who had been booked and held at the detention center since April 20, 2017 on a variety of charges. Toney was being held on a $100,000 bond as well as a charge with no bond. 

The FCSO says investigators had probable cause to believe Toney offered money to Ellis to manipulate booking paperwork to remove the no bond hold. After the no bond was removed by Ellis, Toney was bonded out by Cockrell, who allegedly conspired with Toney and Ellis.

Investigators arrested Toney as he was trying to walk out the front door of the detention center.

Charges at the time of the news release include:

  • Furnishing Implementation for Escape
  • Aiding Consumption of Offense
  • Permitting Escape - 1st Degree
  • Conspiracy

There was no bond amount or court date available when the news release was issued.

"Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals expects professionalism from his staff; maintaining the highest regard to law enforcement ethics and ensuring law is followed and upheld. Sheriff Ryals is committed to addressing issues swiftly when these ethics are compromised and law is broken," the release stated.

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