Week in Review 1-14 to 1-20

13 year old shot with stolen handgun, 19 year old charged

A 13-year-old male was struck in the shoulder by a bullet from a stolen .22 handgun Wednesday during an exchange of the weapon with a 16-year-old male as the two took target practice.

Mountain Home Police Chief Carry Manuel says officers responded to a shooting involving an unknown victim believed to have been struck by a stray bullet.

Through the investigation, officers learned a 16-year-old friend of the victim and the 13 year old had been target shooting with a .22 handgun. During an exchange of the handgun from the victim to the 16 year old, the gun discharged striking the victim in the shoulder.

Investigators learned 19-year-old Kendall Nodine had stolen the handgun from his grandfather. It was also learned Nodine owed the 16-year-old shooter approximately $15. Nodine had given the handgun to the 16 year old as collateral.

During an interview with law enforcement, Nodine allegedly admitted to stealing the handgun and giving it to the juvenile.

Chief Manuel says the grandfather does not want to pursue charges for the stolen handgun.

Nodine was incarcerated on a felony charge of furnishing a deadly weapon to a minor, along with two misdemeanor counts. His bond was set at $20,000.


Audit reveals over $40,000 in undocumented drug buys by former police chief

Over $40,000 in undocumented disbursements were made to former Flippin Police Chief Ronald "Dusty" Smith consisting of checks for drug buy purchases. The misused funding from the drug buy account is the largest amount from any account audited by Arkansas Legislative Audit at the request of 14th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge.

The second affidavit filed in the case January 4th leading to updated theft charges against the former police chief indicated Smith allegedly misused $63,718.l84 in funds from the City of Flippin. While the affidavit indicated Ethredge requested the audit for any credit cards, police accounts, drug buy accounts and any accounts associated by Smith from January 1, 2015 to the present, it did not stipulate from which accounts the funds were misused.

In the report from the Arkansas Legislative Audit released Wednesday, the report indicates $16,193 and $437 in undocumented/questionable credit card purchases were made on behalf of Smith and the deputy/administrative assistant, Nicole Renee Moore, respectively.

In addition, $6,216 in unauthorized disbursements were made on Smith's behalf without a business purpose.

The audit report further notes a review of the city's cellular phone bills revealed $2,880 in unauthorized data usage for the period February 24 through March 23rd, 2016. As of January 9th, Smith had reimbursed all of $480 of these funds.

The additional findings by Arkansas Legislative Audit led to Smith being charged with a Class B felony count of theft of property.

The audit report notes Smith's employment was terminated on November 2nd last year. Later that month, Smith was charged with a Class B felony count of theft of property, which covers amounts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

Smith's and Moore's employments were terminated simultaneously. The audit report notes Moore served as deputy-administrative assistant on a part-time basis.

Online jail records indicate Moore was booked into the Marion County Detention Center Friday evening at 5:35 on a misdemeanor theft of property charge, with bond set at $1,000. She was released the same evening.

Smith is set to appear next in Marion County Circuit Court in February.

No information has been entered into the online Administrative Office of the Courts CourtConnect website regarding Moore's arrest.


Scroggin up for parole in February

Information from Arkansas' Victim Notification Network (VINE) indicates Christina Scroggin of Mountain Home, convicted of manslaughter in 2015 of the death of Raul Turrieta, III, is up for another parole hearing tentatively scheduled for February 8. The date may change depending upon a number of factors and the notification system does not send notifications regarding changes.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, former Marion County Sheriff Joan Vickers and 14th Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kerry Chism were at the 2016 hearing and testified against her release. Montgomery confirmed Friday he and Chism will be going to testify again Wednesday.

Scroggin was moved from the McPherson Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction in Newport in June, 2017 and is now in the custody of the Tucker Re-Entry Center. These centers are set up to assist inmates in re-entering society.

In January 2016, a parole request for Scroggin was denied. With the denial inmates are prohibited from making additional requests for two years, forcing Scroggin to wait to receive another parole hearing.

At the time of the parole request denial, a report compiled by Parole Board Commissioner Dawne Vandiver cited several reasons for recommending denial of the parole including the nature and seriousness of the crime, the crime involved a death, and a weapon being involved.

The report also noted that Scroggin had many supporters in her bid for parole, including her counselor. According to online Arkansas Department of Correction records, Scroggin had completed programs in mental health, anger management, domestic violence and parenting since her incarceration.

Scroggin was sentenced to eight years in prison for Turrieta's death. Turrieta was shot to death in 2013 on a remote road in Marion County where the couple stopped on a trip back to Mountain Home from Little Rock.

Scroggin was convicted by a Marion County jury of manslaughter after the state had originally charged her with first-degree murder. An eight-woman, four-man jury rejected that charge and opted instead for the lesser included offense of manslaughter. In these instances juries have the option of finding a person guilty of a lesser included offense if they have reasonable doubt as to guilt in the more serious offense.


Former Boone County pastor sentenced to 32 years

A former Harrison pastor, 38-year-old Larry Michael Berkley, has been sentenced to 32 years in prison after he pled guilty earlier this month to numerous charges regarding abuse of juveniles. His time in the Arkansas Department of Correction will follow his prison term in Tennessee.

The Harrison Daily Times reports Berkley was charged with four counts of first-degree sexual assault and seven counts of second-degree sexual abuse in 2014.

Berkley was accused of allowing minors and juveniles go to his house to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. In addition, he is accused of sexually assaulting young males, all over 14 but under 18, and allowing them to watch pornography.

He was arrested in May 2014, on charges out of Boone County while he was in Covington, Tennessee, where he was living at the time. Officials said he had just finished officiating a graveside funeral service when he was arrested.

He was brought back to Harrison for arraignment, then posted a $100,000 bond and returned to Tennessee later that month.

But a Lauderdale County, Tennessee grand jury indicted Berkley in June of 2014 on two counts of rape and four counts each of aggravated statutory rape, sexual battery by an authority figure and statutory rape by an authority figure.

The Associated Press reported in January 2015 a jury convicted Berkley of all counts against him. Tennessee court records indicate Berkley’s appeal of convictions was denied in May 2016. Tennessee prison records show Berkley is eligible for parole there in September 2037.

Berkley was returned to Harrison for trial last August. Trial was set for November, but a continuance was granted until earlier this month when he pleaded guilty as charged.

He was sentenced to 32 years in prison on each count to run concurrently with each other and with the sentence in Tennessee.

According to a sentencing report by Deputy Prosecutor Chris Carter, “This man has proven he is a predatory pedophile and used his position to steal money from churches, buy alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco products for young males to seduce them."

Carter’s report said it was the intent of the plea agreement to keep Berkley in prison until mid-2049.

Berkley would be 70 years old at that time.

Boone County Jail records show he was sent back to Tennessee on January 4th.


Medical marijuana applications submitted from North Central Arkansas

Two applications from Mountain Home are among over 200 applications for medical marijuana dispensaries submitted to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. A list of all the names and proposed locations of applicants for both dispensaries and cultivation centers was released by DF&A Thursday.

According to the list, the business names for the two Baxter County applicants are Greener Findings, LLC and Plant Family Therapeutics, LLC. The list does not indicate any applications for cultivation centers having been submitted from Baxter County.

The information released from DF&A provides only the business name, license type, city, county and the zone from which the application was submitted. A check with the City of Mountain Home's Building Inspection Department where new business licenses are issued indicated there had been no contact with that office from parties expressing interest in operating a dispensary.

The state is divided into eight dispensary zones. There will be 32 medical marijuana dispensary licenses awarded spread across the eight zones, with the idea this planning will create less travel time for patients in more rural regions of the state.

Other dispensary applications from Zone 2 in North Central Arkansas include River Valley Releaf in Flippin, 23, LLC and New Leaf Cannabis Company, LLC in Harrison, Arkansas Green Cross Cannabis Dispensary in Salem, and Fiddler's Green, LLC and The Hemp Store Cafe, LLC in Mountain View.

Among the 95 cultivating facility applications submitted statewide were two from Zone 2. Those applications were from The Comfort Clinic in Marshall and Plant Family Medical Ventures, LLC in Izard County.

In December the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission announced a timeline for license applications to be scored and then awarded by the Alcohol Beverage Control.

A self-imposed deadline of February 20th to score the 95 cultivating applications was set, with the winners to be announced at a public meeting the following week.

The 227 dispensary applications are expected to be announced in late April.

Arkansas voters approved the state's Medical Marijuana Amendement in November 2016, with 53% voting in favor.

A complete list of all the names and proposed locations of applicants for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers is available through a link to the Arkansas Times
medical marijuana applications

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