By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
An investigation into allegations against Sheriff Archie Dunn has ended without the filing of criminal charges, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said this week.
After looking into issues including the purchase of T-shirts for students in the department’s DARE program and coins for a breast cancer awareness program, the office “determined there is insufficient evidence of criminal intent to warrant the filing of criminal charges,” according to Joan Gummels, of the state office.
“It proves what I knew all along — that I didn’t do anything wrong,” Dunn said.
Bill Fleischaker, Dunn’s attorney, said he had been notified of the findings earlier in the week when the state sent him a copy of a letter sent to Dean Dankelson, Jasper County prosecutor. Dankelson had asked that the state office be named as special prosecutor to look into allegations of whether the sheriff had used county funds for his re-election campaign.
Jasper County commissioners first asked for an investigation in May, after learning that T-shirts were passed out to students in three schools as part of the DARE (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) program that also contained a message on the back that read: “Re-elect Archie Dunn, Jasper County Sheriff.” They raised the issue after a bill for shirts to go to students in Sarcoxie was submitted to the county for payment. The county refused payment and Dunn said the $306 bill was submitted to the county by mistake.
The shirts also prompted some complaints from Sarcoxie school officials.
Questions concerning the shirts were raised by Dankelson, along with coins distributed by Dunn’s re-election campaign to promote breast cancer awareness and raise money for a local program. The cost of the coins — $3,030 — was turned in to the county. Dunn said that too was by mistake. Then the county commission refused to accept a check submitted for reimbursement, because it came from the Jasper County Sheriff Chaplain’s Benevolent Account.
Dunn later wrote a personal check to replace that money, and the resolution of those “disputed costs” also was noted by the attorney general’s office.
The benevolent account, which also included money donated for the office’s “shop with a deputy program,” and to a fund for a Christmas party for sheriff’s office employees, prompted questions by the commission because it was using the county’s tax identification number.
A dispute involving that fund was resolved earlier this week when the County Commission agreed to allow a regional Fraternal Order of Police to oversee money spent from the fund, including costs of the “shop with a deputy program.”
Dunn was defeated in the August primary by Randee Kaiser, who will take office in January.