No charges for former chief deputy

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Former Fulton County Chief Deputy John Cawvey was the subject of a recent investigation completed by 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance’s office. Hance said the facts developed throughout the case were “not as strongly suggestive of theft as the allegations in the original report.” No charges were filed on Cawvey, as a result of the investigation.

Special Agent Buster Rinks with the Arkansas State Police conducted a series of interviews in the investigation, as detailed in documents obtained from Hance’s office.

The investigation was requested by Hance on Thursday, March 19.

The case report lists 83-year-old Dewayne McCullough as the victim of an attempted misdemeanor theft of property, with John Cawvey listed as the suspect. The alleged theft took place in a vacant building owned by McCullough.

Special Agent Rinks began by talking to Salem Police Chief Shad Overman, who requested Hance conduct an investigation after receiving a resident’s statement, “that John Cawvey had stolen items from a gymnasium he owned within the city limits of Salem.” He also spoke with Fulton County Sheriff Al Roork, who told SA Rinks he and other deputies had items in their possession, which the victim said had been stolen. Roork said the items had either been sold or traded by Cawvey.

“On March 24, 2020, I interviewed Dewayne McCullough. McCullough gave a different account of the facts surrounding the case then he had gave Chief Overman and Sheriff Roork. McCullough stated he had given John Cawvey permission to sell the items in his gymnasium and that he was going to get 60% percent of the proceeds and Cawvey would get 40% of the proceeds. McCullough stated he had never received any payment for any of the items he noticed were gone from the gymnasium. McCullough stated on one instance he brought up the fact that a refrigerator and keyboard were

missing and Cawvey stated the gymnasium could have been broken into and that the neighborhood was getting bad. McCullough admitted to giving Cawvey a key to the building and also having a verbal agreement to have Cawvey liquidate the items inside. The items McCullough stated were stolen were as follows: Refrigerator, keyboard, AC unit, tar paper, motorcycle,” said a portion of SA Rinks’ summary.

In a series of interviews, SA Rinks was able to locate the AC unit, refrigerator and motorcycle. Those interviewed include: Sheriff Al Roork, Sergeant William Fawcett, Dewayne McCullough and Leon Lundry. The interviews took place the week of March 23.

Sheriff Roork was in possession of the AC unit, which Roork traded Cawvey a rifle for. Sgt. Fawcett was in possession of the nonworking refrigerator, which he used for parts and paid a few dollars to Cawvey for. Cawvey told Roork and Fawcett, according to reports, where the items were being retrieved. The motorcycle was in the possession of Lundry, who said he and Cawvey worked out a deal for the motorcycle ($600 to $800), however; the motorcycle had not been paid for, due to Lundry waiting on a title from McCullough. Lundry stated McCullough was present at the time of the sale, therefore he knew the details.

On April 9, SA Rinks documented being contacted by Sheriff Roork with a new development in the case. “Sheriff Roork explained that McCullough had meet him at the post office in Salem. McCullough stated he had received a registered letter from John Cawvey. McCullough opened the letter and a check for $500 dollars was made out to Dewayne McCullough. Dewayne and Sheriff Roork worked out a deal that Sheriff Roork would give back the AC unit and Sheriff Roork would get the S500 in lieu of John Cawvey having Sheriff Roork’s gun in his possession. Sheriff Roork stated he signed the back of the check with Dewayne McCullough present and cashed the check at a local banking institution in Salem.”

On June 9, Hance contacted Sheriff Roork and Chief Overman and said the investigation was complete and no charges were being filed. “Mr. Dewayne McCullough is the initial injured party in this matter. He may have been treated wrongly by John Cawvey, but based upon his interview I am convinced we cannot prove theft of property beyond a reasonable doubt. Based upon this, I will not be filing criminal charges on this conduct against John Cawvey. If any further information is developed that could change that, I will certain be willing to consider it. As always, thank you for your good work.”

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