Faulkner County Administrator Jeff Johnston pleaded innocent to a felony theft-of-property charge in Faulkner County Circuit Court under Judge Rhonda Wood on Wednesday.
Johnston, 37, of Conway, has been accused of using county funds to apply asphalt to the driveway at his home in 2008, according to Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland. The amount of county funds used to pave the driveway totaled $3,859.54.
Hiland said the investigation began by the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office in November 2008 and was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2009. After nearly three years, no action was taken by federal agencies, and the case was returned to the state level. He said that the reason the case was returned was because “this particular type of theft of property was better pursued at the state level.”
Hiland said the investigation revealed that county funds were used at Johnston’s address and that Johnston and former Faulkner County Civil Attorney Stephan Hawks attempted to cover it up through a newly made receipt for the materials initially charged to the county and a donation to the county road fund in the exact dollar amount of the asphalt used.
Theft of property of county funds constitutes a Class “B” felony and is punishable by up to 5-20 years in prison.
Johnston still holds his position with the county.
A pretrial hearing was set for 1 p.m. on Oct. 10.