|Updated: 10/31/2011 5:27 pm
||Published: 10/31/2011 4:54 pm
SEARCY COUNTY, AR - The sheriff in Searcy County might not be sheriff for too much longer, at least not if Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland has his way.
"The constitution is pretty specific about not being able to hold office if you've been convicted of an infamous crime," said Hiland.
Sheriff Kenny Cassell pleaded guilty to stealing cornish game hens in 1979. Hiland says that makes him ineligible for public office according to the Arkansas Constitution.
"Visited with the sheriff," Hiland recalled, "told him we didn't really have any choice, and we were going to give him the opportunity to resign. I think he's chosen not to do that."
The sheriff disagrees with what he calls Hiland's interpretation of the law, and says voters already knew about his conviction.
"The people of Searcy County spoke through voice," he said, "and that's what, they wanted me sheriff and I was elected."
In support of his argument, the sheriff showed us a copy of the Marshall Mountain Wave newspaper from October 15, 2009. There's an article about his entering the sheriff's race. There's also an ad taken out by Cassell. He says it shows that, "basically that I committed a crime."
The question is, why is this coming out almost a year after the election? Hiland says another law enforcement agency tipped him off about the sheriff's conviction several months ago, and it has nothing to do with politics.
"That's been thrown out there," said Hiland, "and I've got to tell you, that's pretty absurd in that we're both in the same party. This is not about politics. It's about principle."