Missouri Highway Patrol officers arrested Deputy Dophes "Gene" Barton, 47, of rural Alton on Thursday, Jan. 13, minutes after Barton allegedly sold stolen property to an undercover officer.
"He was immediately terminated," Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood said this week of Barton's arrest. "It was a real blow to the rest of the staff."
Barton was charged Friday, Jan. 14, in Oregon County Circuit Court with four counts each of second-degree burglary and theft, all Class C felonies. He is accused of stealing tools, an all-terrain vehicle, a welder, generators and several chain saws from August to December 2010.
The patrol reports that a total of about $15,000 in merchandise has been recovered. The investigation continues for more missing property.
According to authorities, Barton may have been responsible for 10 local break-ins, including two at Brad's Bike Shop in Alton and one at the Missouri Department of Transportation shed near Alton.
Barton's arrest was the result of a lengthy investigation conducted by the sheriff's department, Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force and the patrol's Rural Crimes Task Force.
Underwood said Barton's firing reduces the department's force to one chief deputy and two road deputies.
The department still is doing the best it can for Oregon County citizens, he said.
"This is a bad reflection on us and all of law enforcement. We are sick about it," Underwood said. "The important thing to remember is that we did the right thing -- to get him arrested and seek justice."
Barton is an Alton-area native and joined the sheriff's department in 1996, the same year he pleaded guilty in Oregon County District Court to a Class A misdemeanor wildlife charge, according to online court documents.
Listed as "deputydog63" on the online social site, Myspace, Barton's profile describes Alton as "a place where everybody knows everybody, and I like that."
The profile goes on to say that he is "far from perfect, but tries to be a good person" and lists the Bible as his favorite book.
"I will say I'm a bad boy when I get on my 750 Katana, she goes way too fast," the profile states. "One of these times I will have to stop myself and give me a ticket. But then I would probably talk myself out of it."
Barton was held at the West Plains Police Department before posting bond of $30,000. West Plains officials said Barton was held there "to be separate from" inmates in the Oregon County jail.
A court date has not been released.