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Carter County sheriff, deputy arrested

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams, 31, of Ellsinore was charged Monday, April 4, in Carter County Circuit Court with felony distribution of methamphetamine.

As a result of the investigation, Deputy Steffanie Kearbey, 24, of Ellsinore was charged with second-degree burglary and felony relieving stolen goods, both felonies.

Adams, who was elected to his first term as Sheriff in November 2008, was charged in Carter County Circuit Court with a Class B felony charge of distribution, delivery and manufacturing or delivering a controlled substance. He is being held in a neighboring county jail on a $250,000 cash-only bond.

The patrol, FBI, Missouri Attorney General's Office, Missouri Division of Fire Safety and Carter County prosecuting attorney's office conducted a lengthy investigation, which is ongoing.

As per state statute, Carter County Coroner Dennis McSpadden assumed the position as sheriff, although Adams has not yet resigned, according to reports.

Van Buren Police Department patrolman Rick Stephens was appointed interim County Chief Deputy. Van Buren is the county seat for the county of just less than 6,000 residents.

The county commission was set to discuss the issue Tuesday, April 5. Results of that meeting were unavailable at press time.

Adams was elected to his position by default when in October 2008 then-sheriff Greg Melton, 47, of Grandin, committed suicide.

Reports indicate Melton shot himself in his home garage with his county-issued handgun.

Melton's wife and children discovered his body, assuming Melton had been a homicide victim, according to early news reports.

Melton was seeking his third term in office at the time of his death.

As it was just a few weeks before the election, Melton's name appeared on the November 2008 ballot with Adams' name.

McSpadden filled in as acting sheriff until Adams was sworn into office in January 2009.

In January 2010, Adams' home in Ellsinore burned. Authorities, at the time, did not rule the fire as suspicious, nor have they now indicated the fire led to the drug investigation.

Arrests of Missouri law officers

A search of court records revealed other recent Missouri law enforcement officer arrests:

* Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Casey Stephens, 24, of Ava, a jailer and dispatcher, was charged with two felony counts of stealing alprazolam (brand name Xanax) and morphine from crime scenes with the intent of selling the drugs. He also was charged with one felony county of theft of a controlled substance.

Stephens is now out on bond with his arraignment hearing set for April 5. Results were unavailable at press time.

* In January, Oregon County Sheriff's Deputy Dophes "Gene" Barton, 47, of rural Alton was charged with stealing items worth more than $15,000 in at least 10 local burglaries of homes, businesses and a state highway maintenance barn in Alton. Barton was charged with four counts each of burglary and theft and released on $30,000 bond. Barton is set to appear in Oregon County Circuit Court on June 24.

* Last August, Baxter County (Arkansas) Sheriff's Deputy Brian Keith Rowe, 40, of Mountain Home was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery after allegedly shoving his 15-year-old stepson into a doorway, cutting the boy's head.

* Also last August, an off-duty Christian County Sheriff's Deputy, Brent Paoli, 35, of Nixa, was charged with unlawful use of a firearm while intoxicated after shooting at a woman at 2 a.m. in Kansas and then fleeing to Missouri where a police helicopter found him hiding in a roadside ditch two hours later. Paoli pleaded guilty in October and received a suspended sentence of one year in jail and 50 hours of community service.

* Osage County Sheriff's Deputy Dana Dawson, 60, of Belle, a four-year veteran of that department, was charged in November 2009 with driving drunk on the job and wrecking a patrol car after driving it down an embankment. He pleaded guilty in February 2010 and received a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail with five days of shock incarceration, two years unsupervised probation and $1,500 restitution.

* On Dec. 29 last year, Lewis County Sheriff's Deputy John R. Benn, 26, was arrested on suspicion of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl in July 2009. Benn is set to be arraigned April 8.

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