Friday, June 30, 2017

JOHNNY SOWELL EXPOSED - PART 3 - FINANCIAL MALFEASANCE, BLACKMAIL AND MORE AS FRAUDLENT MAYOR OF SHIRLEY

 JOHNNY SOWELL  AND THE DILAPIDATED BUILDING HE BROKE THE CITY BUDGET PURCHASING

In previous installments we exposed Sowell as a failed wannabe Arkansas State Trooper, one of the sorriest trooper recruits in the entire history of the ASP and as fraudulent mayor of Shirley.

In this installment we will expose some of Sowell's shenanigans and potential illegal acts as a fraudulent mayor.

Sowell verbally resigned as mayor at a December 20, 2016 after a heated discussion over his secretive purchase of run down, collapsing building across the street from Shirley City Hall.


THE ROOF HAS COLLAPSED ON ONE PART OF THE BUILDING
THE OTHER PORTION IS NOT ADA COMPLIANT AND HAS NO RESTROOMS

Sowell was pissed off that an email had been sent to Darla McJunkins with First Service Bank from the city clerk and several city council member requesting information about a loan that Sowell was obtaining for the city to purchase an old run down building near city hall. 

The email called into question the terms of a loan the mayor, allegedly for the city, was securing to buy some downtown buildings. In the Email, dated Nov. 16 from city clerk/recorder Melissa Worthing, Councilwoman Margaret Earnhart, Councilwoman Lisa Hackett and Councilwoman-elect Ginny Kimmons-Stone, the assertion is made that “transparency is sorely lacking, all negotiations with First Service have been kept in the dark from the council,” and that the clerk had not received any appropriate paperwork for the loan, concluding, “Prior to approving or disapproving this loan, we, the undersigned, ask that the [SIC] all information is conveyed to the council and that there is a review of the citys’ [SIC] finances, so we can better judge our situation.”



The minutes from the meeting provide interesting details.





Sowell also had his panties in a wad over the city clerk, Melissa Worthing, providing information to Legislative Audit.

Sowell was found in a previous audit to have used city funds in an illegal manner.





Sowell had violated Arkansas Code Annotated § 14-58-203 by using funds allocated for one purpose for something not allowed (he and his boss Cody Hiland did similar things with Federal funds in his position as the 20th Judicial Drug Task Force head - to be exposed in Part 4 of this series).


Minutes from city council meeting reveal that Sowell wanted the city to buy the rickety old buildings to house the Water and Street department, in spite of the fact that the city was operating with severely limited funds and the building had no restrooms and the cost to make them structural sound, usable and ADA compliant would bankrupt the city.

If that was not enough reasons to keep from buying the shithole, the appraisal of the property determined that it was not worth the asking price and there was an existing note on the property on excess of $50,0000.

A recipe for disaster.








So Sowell and one of his cronies resigned at the December meeting. Word was spreading through the town about Sowell not actually residing in the city limits and that he was a fraudulent mayor. There were also allegations of  multiple wrongdoings. Perhaps Sowell saw the writing on the wall. Perhaps he had done what he intended to do all along and find a buyer for the crumbling buildings for some hidden agenda for his personal benefit.

PART OF A PACKET OF INFORMATION THAT WAS CIRCULATED ABOUT SOWELL




Also at play and unknown by the general public was underhanded ploy by Sowell to try and get rid of one of his biggest roadblocks to having complete control, City Clerk and Recorder Melissa Worthing.


Sowell found out that Worthing was not being billed for not paying for city water service to her home. This had been going on for quite some time.  This was a serious thing and could result in her being removed from office and never being able to hold a public office again.

Sowell tried to use this fact and blackmail Worthing into resigning. Sowell told her that if she resigned, he would make the problem of her not paying for water go away.

Do the terms collusion and obstruction of justice pop into your mind?

A newspaper article at the time quotes Sowell as saying he had filed a report with the Van Buren Coutny Sheriff's Department


Why would an employee of the 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney's Office and head of the Drug Task Force think that he could ignore an illegal act and use it for his personal benefit?  Because he is corrupt.

Worthing, having personal knowledge of Sowell's corruption and reputation for making things happened to people took the extraordinary measure to make a notarized statement to be used in the event something happened to her.


The morning after the city council meeting where Sowell resigned, Worthing went to her office and found that the tape recording of the meeting had been taken by someone.

Worthing received a text message from Sowell that he had taken the tape (without her permission) and would give it back later that day.

She called the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department to report the theft of the tape.

Later a report was made.





Sowell took the tape and went to a local newspaper and played the tape for a reporter with the Fairfield Bay News.


We sent a Freedom of Information to the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office for a copy of the report mentioned in the article and the reponse that we received from them was there were no documents or records.


Was the report pulled at the request of Sowell to remove any evidence that he had knowledge of illegal activities at city hall and which he interned to use in a failed blackmail attempt to force Worthing to resign?  Probably so.


In the January 2017 meeting of the Shirley city council, an article in the Van Buren County Democrat reported that city finances were strained due to the recent purchase forced by former fraudulent mayor Sowell  of two decrepit buildings.



The article also described the receipt by the city of an anonymous letter that listed several allegations of wrongdoing by former fraudulent mayor Sowell.



That letter detailed allegations about Sowell using a grant from the US Department of Agriculture to make improvement on the road leading to his home which was outside the city limits and not a permissible use of the funds (something that Sowell seems to do a lot with public funds). 

Perhaps the city, now realizing that Sowell was not eligible to run for, much less hold, the office of mayor was setting in.

We know that part of the roadwork paid for by the grant was for John Henry Road, which was partly in the city, but not Guffey Lane. CLearly Sowell using his ill-gotten position to receive personal benefit.


Other allegations included Sowell using a contractor to do work who leased trucks from Sowell.  A clear conflict and violation of the law.

The documents that have been sent to us and the material we have obtained on our own are quite considerable and indicate serious issues that point to wrongdoing by Sowell.

Not only were they interesting to us.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation thought they were too and initiated and investigation after requesting we provide them with information we have gathered.

To be continued in Part 4.





Thursday, June 29, 2017

JUDGE FINDS NEWLY HIRED JACKSONVILE POLICE CHIEF INELIGIBLE TO HOLD POSTION


"HONEST" JEFF HERWIG OUT OF A JOB AFTER RULING
 
Judge Alice Gray ruled today that Jacksonville Police Chief Geoffrey Herweg be removed from his post pending the outcome of a trial. 

JUDGE ALICE GRAY

Judge Gray issued a temporary restraining order preventing Geoffrey Herweg from serving as police chief and from receiving a paycheck from the city.




Jacksonville city officials said they'll appeal the decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

JACKSONVILLE MAYOR GARY FLETCHER  REGRETTING DECISION TO HIRE HERWEG 
 
The ruling came after arguments earlier this month before  in Pulaski County Circuit Court on a lawsuit filed in April by Jacksonville Alderman Tara Smith.

Herweg can still work for the city, just not as chief, Gray told City Attorney Robert Bamburg, Mayor Gary Fletcher and City Clerk Susan Davitt at the Thursday hearing. He also cannot be paid his $81,000 salary, Gray said. 

Smith contended that the police chief was legally disqualified from holding the post because of a previous misdemeanor conviction.

Back in 2002, Herweg pleaded guilty in Texas to a misdemeanor charge of giving a false statement to police and failing to report an accident. Herweg was appointed as Jacksonville police chief in April. Mayor Gary Fletcher knew about the misdemeanor when he hired Herweg.

An affidavit states that Herweg crashed into a house on Christmas Eve in 2000, abandoned the vehicle and later lied about the wreck to authorities. He was a law enforcement officer at the time. 

A condition of his guilty plea was that he permanently surrender his police officer license in Texas. He went on to work as a deputy sheriff in New Mexico and was hired for the Jacksonville job by the mayor in April.

An Arkansas law prohibits anyone convicted of an infamous crime from holding a office of trust in the state. Thursday's hearing hinged on whether the misdemeanor was an infamous crime and whether police chief is an office of trust, even though it is an un-elected position.

Judge Gray decided a crime of dishonesty is infamous and the office of police chief is an office of trust.

"Therefore, the court finds that defendant Herweg's 2002 Texas conviction makes him incapable of holding the office of police chief of the city of Jacksonville," said Judge Gray.

Alex Gray is the attorney for Tara Smith, the Jacksonville citizen who filed the suit. Gray says he hopes the ruling sends a clear message to Mayor Fletcher who has the authority to permanently remove the chief from office.

 
ALEX GRAY - NO RELATION TO JUDGE ALICE GRAY - ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF

"I'm sure the mayor would not want a convicted arsonist to be the chief of the fire department, and I just cannot understand why he would want a convicted liar to be the chief of police. It makes no sense," said Alex Gray. "People should be able to trust the police, and Mr. Herweg just simply can't be trusted."

Herweg has another lawsuit pending in New Mexico that was filed earlier this month.
 
That lawsuit, filed by former Lovington, New Mexico police officer Travis Anthony Hobbs, states that Hobbs was forced to resign from the Lovington Police Department in August 2015 over an unproven complaint of misconduct involving under age individuals at at party at Hobb's residence that Herweg investigated. 
 
Herweg, when questioned about his investigation, told the agency that he did not have evidence that Hobbs provided alcohol to the women at the party or that Hobbs knew they were underage, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states that Herweg was "negligent and reckless" in his handling of the complaint. Hobbs is seeking compensation for lost wages, attorney and court fees, and for "mental stress and anguish and damage to his reputation."
 
 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

FIANCÉ OF FIRED JAILER GETS PERTURBED OVER REPOSTING OF PHOTO FROM HER BOYFRIEND'S FACEBOOK PAGE

DEANA RENEE SOWELL - UPSET THAT WE POSTED ABOUT HER BF BEING FIRED BY THE VAN BUREN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT FOR FEEDING INMATES SOAP
 
In a March 26th post about shenanigans at the Van Buren County Jail we posted a photograph snagged from a Facebook post by Greyson Cooper, a jailer that was fired for feeding inmates soap.


Originally we posted an altered photo in which we placed a man's face over the face of Deana Sowell, the bride-to-be of Cooper.

ORIGINAL PHOTO USED IN MARCH 26TH POST ABOUT COOPER
 
PHOTO FOUND BY GOOGLING "MAN WITH LONG BLONDE HAIR"


We initially posted that photo, then a short time later blurred out the face of the man superimposed into the photo and re-uploaded the further altered image.


PHOTO THAT REPLACED INITIAL PHOTO IN POST ABOUT COOPER


Then on May 31st, we received an email from Deana Sowell:

 Then a somewhat lengthy email conversation began:





 


Sowell was not identified nor was she displayed in the initial photo used to accompany her boyfriends post.

Sowell began by complaining about her boyfriend's photo being plastered and that it was a stolen professional copyrighted photograph.  The photo was not stolen, it had been plastered all over social media by her and her boyfriend.

Actually,  it looks like it was taken with an old Kodak Brownie camera by her grandmother. She's looking at the camera and he's looking at something to the right of the camera with a half-baked expression (maybe a bucket of KFC or a pooping dog).

Sowell posted the photo on her Facebook page on March 26th of 2016.





Cooper posted it a few months later on June 26th, 2016 and uses it as his profile picture on Facebook to this day.

Once you post a photograph on Facebook, you agree that is can be used by Facebook, shared by Facebook with others and a whole other long list of legal mumbo jumbo.   Bottom line is that if you want to keep a photo from the public, don't post the damn thing on a social media site for crying out loud.

If you look at the photo as posted on Cooper's Facebook page, you will find that the image does not bear any copyright information or watermark from a photographer or photography studio. 

Sowell claims the photo was release to her for "her use only".  How then did Cooper come into possession of the photo and upload it to Facebook and use it as his profile picture on June 26, 2016?

Perhaps he snagged it from her Facebook page or perhaps she shared the alleged copyrighted photo with him and others.

Sowell then wanted to strike a deal, she would give us the real story about her POS husband-to-be and his feeding soap to inmates in exchange for removing the photo that did not show her face or list her name.

We had all the details and didn't need hearsay statements from her.

Then she revealed the real issue for her, she didn't really give a hoot that his face was "plastered" all over blog, she was worried that her connection to him might impact her future employment once she graduates from college.

Having grown tried of her, we sent this email to her:




The next day, emails started coming in from the photographer. He stated that we had illegally manipulated his photograph and billed us $5k for posting the altered image.  He did state that if we removed the altered image, he would not require payment.









Then the truth comes out, he didn't really care that a photo he took was used, heck he would give permission (not that we needed it), he was trying to appease Sowell and get the image off so she would not be negatively affected.  We must point out that the photo posted did not show her face, it showed the face of a man that had been blurred out.  Her name did not appear in the initial post.




After all the harassment from Sowell and the photographer, we removed the image altered with a man's face placed over Sowell's face and blurred out with a screenshot of the image as posted on Cooper's Facebook page.


If Sowell had problems with that, then she had no one to blame but herself.
It is a fact that her boyfriend was fired for feeding inmates soap.
It is a fact that she is engaged to him.

It is a fact that they both posted a photograph, an alleged professional photograph, on their individual Facebook pages.
It is a fact that the photographer, Andrew Schroeder,  posts photographs similar  to the one of Copper and Sowell on his Facebook page and his website. He might have even posted the photo in question on these pages, but we didn't waste our time to see.
It is a fact that the photographer has the photos on his website tagged to be easily posted to other individuals Pinterest pages.

It is a fact that our altered image did not expose the face of Deana Sowell and that there is little or no resemblance of the facial features of the man's face and Sowell's face.  Even blurred, Sowell's face is still recognizable, especially the eyes.




Fast forward to this afternoon, we received an email from Thomas "Thom" Diaz, instructing us to remove the image we had in the post about Cooper.


 
We simply responded "No".

Our use of this and other photos is legally under 17 U.S. Code § 107.

It is not the first time we had to deal with this type of issue. 

We have been involved in two separate lawsuits in which this issue came up.  

The judge in both cases told the individuals that complained that we used their photos that had been posted on social media sites or other places, it was not illegal, if you don't want someone to have your photo or use it like it was on our blogs to not post them on social media sites.

Dan McDonald the former head of Arkansas Child Support Enforcement was bothered that we posted these photos of him on or blog, Bad Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement.






http://badarocse.blogspot.com/2014/10/ocse-director-abuses-travel-funds.html

Tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet objected to our use of these photos on our Bad Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control blog.






http://badaralcoholcontol.blogspot.com/2016/06/abc-enforcement-director-is-called-as.html

We received a request from the attorney that represented a law breaking  police officer to redact part of a letter we posted.







Bottom line, we take our blogs and the information that we dispense to the public very seriously and are not frightened by letters from attorneys or lawsuits when we utilize public information, information obtained via a FOI request or from a thorough investigation of the facts.

Just ask the Attorney General and one of her minions,  Colin Jorgensen.

http://badaralcoholcontol.blogspot.com/2015/09/judge-orders-arkansas-state-police-to.html

Deana Sowell is worried about what her potential employers will think about our post about a former jailer fired for feeding prisoners soap and her being connected to him. 

Seems to us that she should be more concerned about marrying him.

 


************

Does the last name of Sowell ring a bell?  We bet it does if you follow this blog.

According to information and belief, she is a relative of Johnny Sowell, who is the subject of an exposé series on this blog.


http://badgovernmentinarkansas.blogspot.com/2017/06/johnny-sowell-exposed-part-1-failed.html

http://badgovernmentinarkansas.blogspot.com/2017/06/johnny-sowell-exposed-part-2-fraudlent.html



***UPDATE 6/26/17***

A reader contacted us and gave us some startling information.  Turns out that Ms. Sowell has another reason she does not want to be blogged about.  

And it's worse than the information about her husband-to-be feeding soap to inmates.

Her father, Robert Sowell is a registered sex offender.



SCREENSHOT OF JUNE 14TH POST ON FACEBOOK

Back in 2013 he was arrested and charged with Sexual Assault in the first degree, a Class A Felony for having sex with his 14 year old niece, Ms. Sowell's cousin.



 


The "best dad ever" entered a negotiated plead and was sentenced two two years in prison.





Once released from prison. he was determined to be a serious risk to the public and that he would offend again.

The State asked the judge to sign and order to continue and extend monitoring of "the best dad ever".

It was revealed that he still had a sexual interest in his niece and no one else.

That folks is a sick individual.



 


There is a connection to our post about the illegal mayor of Shirley Arkansas, Johnny Sowell in this matter...turns out that the "best dad ever" was appointed a court appointed attorney after he claimed he was indigent.  The court appointed attorney was Ralph Blagg, the same attorney that the City of Shirley blamed for screwing up the annexation of Johnny Sowell's residence.







We expect that Ms. Sowell would say that there is another side to the story about her father just like she did with her husband-to-be.

According to information on her Facebook profile she is a college student at UCA majoring in Psychology.  Perhaps she should consider changing her major to advertising or political science and becoming a spokesman like one of those Donald Trump employs to spin the truth.