Saline County sheriff pleads guilty
Both the sheriff and a special prosecutor use the term "embarrassment" to describe the behavior of Sheriff Bruce Pennington on a summer day in late June.
Saline County's top cop entered two misdemeanor guilty pleas today.
Pennington plans to keep his job and work to restore his reputation.
What happened in court was over in about two minutes. After reviewing over an hour of recorded video from the evening of his arrest...Sheriff Pennington decided it was in everyone's best interest that he plead guilty as charged.
"I just want to go to bed....I got my ****ing tickets," Pennington said to officers the evening of his arrest. "I'll show up for ****ing court. I cannot believe that you would stoop so low to write me ****ing tickets. I cannot believe that."
"I'll be happy to discuss that with you when you're sober," replied one of the officer.
"I am sober," answered Pennington.
"No sir you're not," replied the officer.
"Yes I am," assured Pennington. "If I wasn't I wouldn't argue with you."
Similar exchanges went on for about an hour inside the Benton police department following Sheriff Pennington's arrest.
Pennington alternated arguing with, joking with, cussing at...even hugging officers.
Earlier outside a Benton bar and restaurant cameras failed to capture Pennington taking a swing at one of the officers who arrested him.
"The office of Sheriff is an office of public trust," says special prosecutor Cody Hiland. "The sheriff's actions certainly violated that trust. Again it was an embarrassment to law enforcement across the state. We work hard to try to earn the respect of our people that we serve. And their interests were not served by the actions of the sheriff."
"In the first week of August I entered into an in-patient treatment facility to address my personal issues," read Sheriff Pennington from a prepared statement following his court appearance. "I will continue to address my human flaws for the rest of my life."
In addition to his diminished reputation Sheriff Pennington will have to pay a $2,500.00 fine and serve one year on probation.
Misdemeanor convictions in most cases do not prevent a person from holding public office in Arkansas and Sheriff Pennington gave no indication that he plans to do anything other than work to regain lost trust and respect.
Air date: August 26th, 2013