Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

TOP STORY >>Criminal charges piling up in Lonoke

IN SHORT: Campbell prosecutor ups ante with new criminal-enterprise charges, paints lurid picture of betrayal, drugs, sex, thievery.

Leader senior staff writer

Former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell masterminded a continuing criminal organization or enterprise that stole drugs and money, influenced inmates with drugs and sexual favors, conspired to manufacture methamphetamine, burgled homes and beat and intimidated witnesses between October 2002 and December 2005, according to new charges filed in the Lonoke County circuit clerk’s office by Prosecutor Lona McCastlain Tuesday.

Dropping all previous charges, then refiling them in support of the new, overriding criminal-enterprise charge, McCastlain paints a lurid picture of betrayal by Campbell and his wife, Kelly Harrison Campbell, of the public trust and the trust of friends and neighbors from whom they allegedly stole.

If Campbell and the others are convicted ofthe umbrella criminal-enterprise charge, the sentences of other felonies would be longer, McCastlain said Tuesday, otherwise declining an interview.

Contacted late Tuesday, lawyers for the Campbells did not return calls.

All defendants already were due in Lonoke County Circuit Court Friday to set a trial date, and it’s likely that defense lawyers will have a new round of motions and challenges.

Campbell “did unlawfully and feloniously engage in a continuing criminal organization or enterprise in the first degree by committing, attempting to commit or soliciting to commit a felony predicate offense and that offense was part of a continuing series of two or more predicate criminal offenses which were undertaken by (Campbell) in concert with two or more other persons with respect to whom (Campbell) occupies a position of organizer, supervisor or any other position of management, a special classification of felony,” according to a 19-page information filed with the 39-page bill of particulars.

Co-conspirators also charged with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise were Kelly Campbell, bail bondsmen Gene Norwood and Bobby Junior Cox and former dispatcher Amy Staley.

Staley allegedly had sex with an inmate, and Kelly Campbell is alleged to have had sex with two inmates for a total of about 24 times, supplying them with alcohol, drugs and a cell phone, according to the charges.

The Campbells “used his authority to exploit (ACT) 309 inmates for the Campbells’ sexual gratification. The Campbells facilitated sexual acts in the chief’s office, a local hotel, the Campbells’ residence and other locations.”
ACT 309 inmates are state prisoners loaned out to cities and counties as laborers.

Jay Campbell is additionally charged with hindering apprehension of prosecution, filing a false police report and several counts each of obtaining controlled substance by fraud or theft of property.

A Department of Correction investigation begun in late 2005 into whether or not some Lonoke city officials improperly used Act 309 inmate labor was later handed off to the state Police and subsequently resulted in charges for which the Campbells and the others are currently charged.

Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett is charged only with theft of services, a misdemeanor, in connection with work he admits was done for his benefit by ACT 309 inmate laborers.

McCastlain alleges that Jay Campbell obtained money, property, controlled substances, sexual gratification and other benefits.

Norwood is accused of promising Campbell $25,000 to help catch Robert Beasley, a fugitive who fled leaving the bondsman liable for $130,000 worth of bonds.

The chief organized the arrest of one man, convinced him to manufacture methamphetamine to sell to a second man believed to know the whereabouts of the man who fled.

McCastlain alleges that Jay Campbell, as an experienced drug investigator, implemented an aggressive narcotics arrest program, diverting seized drugs and money to their own use and turning suspects into informants to obtain more drugs and money.

After the arrest, the charges would disappear, the documents allege. McCastlain alleges that Campbell refused to let his officers keep proper paperwork.

He is accused of setting up various off-the-books accounts—like money from the prisoners commissary fund—then plundering it for his own use.

The prosecutor charges that the Campbells fostered relationships with members of the community and church family where he would “entertain friends” while she roamed their homes taking medications or personal property.

Among those from whom the Campbells allegedly stole prescriptions drugs, money or jewelry were local retailer and Lonoke Treasurer Walls McCrary, city Alderman Jackie Moore, community center director Mike Brown, quorum court Member Woody Evans, Pastor Jimmy Wallace and many others.

It was Wallace who went to Privett with his concerns over Campbell’s behavior. “The mayor did not believe the allegations,” according to documents.

In addition to manufacturing methamphetamine, Campbell and his associates allegedly manipulated drug dealers and informants to obtain more drugs and money. Money seized and taken in some instances amounted to thousands of dollars, according to the charges. McCastlain detailed several instances, using only the initials of those involved.

Campbell allegedly threatened one informant with death, saying he would see her dead or under the prison.

McCastlain details allegations about conduct committed by Campbell to protect the organization’s ability to continue to commit criminal activity.

- Kelly Campbell was warned about the investigation into a burglary of which she was suspected.

- He ignored reports of his wife’s misconduct with the Act 309 inmates and rebuked his subordinates for documenting her illegal activity.

- He ordered subordinates to falsely omit his presence from various crime-scene logs to conceal his crimes and to falsely claim they received monies to pay informants, when he actually kept the money.

- He is accused of falsely accusing his own brother of burglary that Campbell and his wife committed. He impeded investigations into alleged crimes committed by members of the organization by providing false information to investigators, and also using innocent law enforcement officers to make false arrests by providing misleading information.