Sheila McCutcheon resigns as Newton County, Ark., Assessor after pleading guilty to felony theft charges

April 21, 2017: Newton County, Ark. Assessor Sheila McCutcheon was found guilty of felony theft charges on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, and she promptly resigned from office. McCutcheon, 59, Republican, entered a no-contest plea during her jury trial at the Courthouse in Jasper. Two witnesses had testified before the plea deal was reached Tuesday afternoon, April 18. Circuit Court Judge John Putman ruled McCutcheon guilty in open court while the jury was in recess. As part of the plea agreement, Putman ordered McCutcheon to pay $10,040 in restitution to Arkansas Legislative Audit. She also must pay court costs and fees totaling about $470. McCutcheon was sentenced to five years of probation, and she agreed not to run for public office again, Putman said. As part of the deal, theft charges were dropped against former Deputy Assessor Desiray McCutcheon, 36, Sheila McCutcheon's daughter-in-law. The McCutcheons, both of Vendor, were arrested on June 17, 2016, by the Arkansas State Police after a state audit revealed that $11,504 worth of personal items were purchased with county credit cards from 2010 through 2015, according to charges filed in Newton County Circuit Court. Putman said the purchases in question included a lawnmower, rib-eye steaks, beer, cigarettes and Grecian Formula, a hair-coloring product for men. The purchases were made with Wal-Mart credit cards that were meant for Assessor's Office supplies, according to a probable-cause affidavit from Ted Jones, a state police agent. Bank records indicated the women had made attempts to repay the credit card account for personal purchases over time. Vickie Bartholomew, the Newton County Treasurer, said Sheila McCutcheon wrote a check to the county in June, 2016, for $10,458. br> McCutcheon's resignation on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, marked the second time she has resigned within the past year. She resigned in June, 2016, when she was charged with theft. Then, she was re-elected on Nov. 8, 2016, as the only Assessor candidate on the ballot. She resumed her old job as Assessor in January, 2017. Sheila McCutcheon was previously the Deputy Assessor from 1993 to 1996 before being elected Assessor for the first time in 1997. She held that post continuously, as Assessor, from then until her resignation in June, 2016. Under Arkansas Code Annotated 21-12-302, a county officer who is convicted of a felony shall be ousted from office.

Attribution: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazettet

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