TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — The fines against a man who tried to fake his death while he was awaiting trial for rape helped Miller County authorities buy a boat.
The $7,000 from the fines and restitution paid by Jody Cook has paid half the cost of a 14-foot search-and-rescue boat that was unveiled Wednesday at the Miller County Courthouse.
"I'm proud of it," Miller County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Derrell Reynolds said. "With the sonar, we can see a lot of things underwater. We can find weapons if investigators think something has been dumped in a lake or river. We can even see fish moving," he said.
The total price of the boat, equipment and trailer is $14,000. The additional $7,000 has accumulated from fines collected through tickets issued by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.
"This is the first time this kind of assessment has been made to pay for a boat. One of the reasons this was done is because most searches we go on are legitimate. This one was completely false," Reynolds said.
Miller County has one other prop-driven search-and-rescue boat and a "jet-foot boat," Reynolds said.
A jet-foot boat is used for shallow water. "It uses incoming water to run a fan like a jet forcing water out. We can use it on flooded streets and real shallow water," he said.
Cook admitted he developed a scheme to make law enforcement officers believe he died after jumping into the Red River near dusk on June 16, 2007.
At the time of his disappearance, Cook was facing charges of rape and theft of property.
He pleaded guilty to rape and two counts of failure to appear in court. He entered a plea of no contest to theft of property and was sentenced to a total of 35 years in prison.
Cook managed to hide for four months before authorities in Polk County arrested him Oct. 16, 2007, at a house in Hatfield, Ark. He had been living there with his wife and their two children.