The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 7, 2013

Former sheriff’s bond paid to Jasper County

By Susan Redden

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The company that insured former Sheriff Archie Dunn in his official capacity in Jasper County has paid a bond of $20,000 to the county, based on the county’s claim that Dunn violated his official duties by withholding information on funds paid to the sheriff’s office.

Norman Rouse, attorney for the County Commission, announced the payment Tuesday after a closed meeting with the panel.

Rouse said the claim, which was paid by Ohio Casualty Insurance Co. on May 1, stemmed from an arrangement that Dunn had worked out with Encartele Inc., the firm that provided the inmate telephone system at the county jail.

The firm paid a 40 percent commission to the county under a contract for the service. But Rouse said Dunn had worked out a separate arrangement with the firm to withhold an additional 14 percent, which would go for technology purchases by the Sheriff’s Department. Payments for the purchases were made by the company at the sheriff’s request, and the arrangement and additional funds never were reported to the county. The fund amounted to more than $44,000 from July 2010 to November 2012.

Under state law, all revenues collected by county officers are to be reported by county officials and paid into the county treasury, Rouse said.

Bill Fleischaker, Dunn’s attorney, said all the money went for county purposes and there never was a suggestion that it had been spent improperly.

“I don’t think he did anything wrong,” Fleischaker said. “He was acting in his official capacity, and all the money was spent for department needs.”

Rouse made the request to the insurance company via Fleischaker, who had filed to represent the firm, along with Dunn, in a lawsuit filed by Henry County against Dunn and Jasper County.

Henry County filed the lawsuit in February 2012 after the Jasper County Commission had refused to pay nearly $140,000 in prisoner boarding bills when Dunn had placed county inmates in the Henry County Jail in Clinton.

After a hearing in January, Rouse said the two counties had reached a settlement under which Jasper County would pay $50,000 to Henry County, which would dismiss its suit and assign its claim against Dunn to Jasper County.

Rouse had said the county refused to pay the prisoner boarding bills because there were no bids or written contracts for the service.

Fleischaker had cited state law that allows a sheriff, if the county jail is insufficient, to place prisoners in other jails and requires other counties to accept them. He said another law requires the county to pay for the prisoners, the same as if they were in the county jail.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a request by Sheriff Randee Kaiser, declaring as surplus three used sheriff’s vehicles, 60 mobile and portable radios, and three radio repeaters.

Kaiser said he wanted to trade out the radios and purchase equipment that would allow his department to better communicate with other agencies in the county. He said communications were limited by the system purchased several years ago. He said he had found a vendor who would buy the radios, allowing the office to change to a new system.

“What we have right now impedes communication, and it’s important in public safety for everyone to be able to talk with each older,” he said. “We want to move toward a countywide radio system.”

The announcement brought praise from Keith Stammer, Joplin-Jasper County emergency management coordinator, who said he knew of other counties that had changed systems for the same reason.

Water projects

THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS met Tuesday with local representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to discuss stream bank stabilization projects on which the agency and the county might cooperate.