Update: Circuit Court Decides Ex-Sheriff Allowed to Run for Office



SEARCY COUNTY, Ark. – A former sheriff who was forced to step down in 2013 can now run for the office or any government position again. 

This morning’s court decision comes after Kenny Cassell admitted to a 1979 crime. 

According to court documents, he revealed that 34 years prior to his removal from office, he came into possession of some stolen Cornish Game Hens he got from a friend when he was 20. 

The prosecutor at the time ruled Cassell’s actions fell under the category of infamous crimes, but a recent amendment to the law no longer defines it as one. 

Original story: 

SEARCY COUNTY, Ark — A former Searcy County sheriff who was forced to resign wants his job back.

Kenny Cassell said he believes a recent change in the law will clear his past.

“Well, I have a passion for people,” said Cassell.

It’s that passion Cassell said led him to run for Searcy County sheriff in 2009, which he won in 2010.

“I’m just 100 percent against drugs and we just launched a campaign that we wanted to fight it as hard as we can,” said Cassell.

A few months later, he learned the prosecuting attorney filed a petition to remove him from office.

“I was honestly just sick to my stomach,” said Cassell.

According to court documents, Cassell came into possession of some stolen hens he got from a friend back in 1979, when he was just 20-years-old.

“Just to be transparent with the voters and people of Searcy County,” said Cassell.

He pled guilty to a federal misdemeanor for being in possession of the stolen birds, a few months later.

“I was just too young and stupid to understand it,” said Cassell.

The prosecutor at the time, Cody Hiland, said in 2011 Cassell’s confession meant it was illegal for him to serve.

“State law so tasks us with removing people who aren’t qualified to serve,” said Hiland.

According to court documents the state supreme court addressed ‘infamous crime’ twice.

In 2005, ruling that it meant any crime that was deceitful or dishonest.

And in 2010, in a case from Greenwood where a mayor was found to have stolen opponents’ campaign signs … justices said it specifically applied to misdemeanor theft.

Cassell was forced to step down as sheriff in 2013.

“I was very disappointed,” said Cassell.

In 2016, the definition for ‘infamous crime’ was amended, removing any reference to misdemeanor acts of dishonesty or misdemeanor theft.

Meaning Cassell may be able to run for sheriff again, which he plans to.

 “We hope to be on the ballot,” said Cassell.

Cassell said served 30 days in jail and paid a $300 fine for his crime.

His case to be able to run for a government office is set to be heard in a Searcy County courtroom Thursday morning.

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