Convicted Fulton County judge resigns

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Fulton County Judge Jimmy Kendrick resigned at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31 at a specially called meeting of the Fulton County Quorum Court, according to release from Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance’s office.

Judge Kendrick was convicted of theft of property, a Class D Felony, in a two-day jury trial that ended on Jan. 23, the release said.

The theft charge arose from work done on the judge’s private roadway on Jun. 11-12, 2019.

According to witnesses, three county employees — operating a county-owned road grader and two county-owned dump trucks — delivered and spread 18 loads of hill dirt to property owned by the judge, his wife, and son, Hance’s office said. The dirt was spread over various parts of the approximately one-quarter-mile private drive.

The dirt was obtained from a landowner who testified that he only allows the county road crew to extract dirt from his property and that he does not allow individuals or businesses access to the dirt. A county employee used a county-owned excavator to load the dirt into the dump trucks, the release said.

Work stopped on the judge’s property when Anthony Weston, an auditor with the Arkansas Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, went to the judge’s property on Pleasant Valley Road in Fulton County to investigate.

Weston testified that he took photographs and interviewed the road grader operator. He said during the trial, that Legislative Audit investigates misuse of public money and property.

Arkansas State Police investigator Justin Nowlin interviewed several county employees, many of whom testified at the trial. Nowlin also interviewed the judge who testified at the trial on his own behalf.

Kendrick testified that he had been too busy with county business to do his own road and that he always intended to pay the county back for the work done on his road.

Kendrick tendered a check to the Fulton County Treasurer for approximately $1,800 on Jun. 18, 2019.

Two business owners who do work similar to the work done on the judge’s property, testified that the fair market value of the work done on the judge’s property was worth more than $5,000.

After finding Kendrick guilty of the theft charge, the jury imposed a fine of $10,000, the maximum amount for a Class D Felony. No prison time was imposed for the 72-year-old Kendrick.

The state’s case was presented by 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance and Deputy Prosecutor Drew Smith.

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