Leader Blues

Friday, February 12, 2010

TOP STORY >> Campbell returned to prison

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Former Lonoke Police Chief Ronald Jay Campbell, dressed in warmups and with a Bible in hand, reported to the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office at 9:40 Friday morning, and he was transported directly to the state Correction Department’s Diagnostic Unit at Pine Bluff.

From there, he’s likely to finish his sentence in an out-of-state facility. He had been in a Missouri prison.

Campbell pleaded guilty Feb. 6 to four felonies before Lonoke County Circuit Judge Barbara Elmore and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. With credit for time served, Campbell will first be eligible for parole Sept. 4, 2010, according to Correction Department spokesman Dina Tyler.

Campbell was convicted of more than 20 counts in April 2007 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, but on Nov. 5, the state Supreme Court overturned Campbell’s 2007 convictions on 23 charges, including running a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and a bevy of burglary and drug-related charges.

The court remanded the case back to Lonoke County Circuit Court.

Interim Prosecutor Will Feland and Special Prosecutor Jack McQuarry drew up a 17-charge bill of particulars.

But following a plea negotiation, Campbell pled guilty to two counts of burglary, one count of theft of property and one count of obtaining drugs by fraud.

His wife, Kelly Harrison Campbell, is serving 10 years in prison and will be eligible for parole this year also.

He will not be allowed to own a firearm or get a job in law enforcement, Feland said.

The victims wanted closure, Feland said.

Campbell’s attorney, Patrick Benca, characterized former Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain’s efforts to convict Campbell as kingpin of an ongoing criminal enterprise as “overreaching.”