Grievance: ASP Investigating Benton County Sheriff’s “Illegal Actions”

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) — In a grievance filed against Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck Thursday (Oct. 29), a Benton County Sheriff’s deputy claims she was demoted by Cradduck because she cooperated with an Arkansas State Police investigation into the sheriff’s “illegal actions.”

According to the grievance, Deputy Robin Holt started working for the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in 2007. In 2012, she was promoted to sergeant and worked in booking and then transportation. In February 2014 she was promoted to transportation sergeant and in October of that same year she was promoted to jail administration lieutenant. On Oct. 26, 2015 Cradduck demoted Holt to the position of deputy and reduced her pay, the grievance states.

Holt claims Cradduck retaliated against her because she refused to comply with his “illegal order to falsify county records” and later cooperated with ASP investigators, according to the grievance.

On Oct. 5, 2015, Holt was notified that the sheriff wanted to hire Gabriel Cox, who was living with Cradduck and his wife, immediately and he was to receive his uniform and equipment that day, the grievance states. Holt advised that Cox had not yet completed the required psychological evaluation or physical, but was still ordered to hire him, according to the grievance. She was further told the sheriff ordered Cox’s start date, time records and pay records were to backdated to the week before, the grievance states. Holt informed her superior that she was going to defy Cradduck’s order because she felt it was “illegal and unethical,” according to the grievance. Her superior agreed and reported the sheriff’s order, the grievance states.

The following day Holt met with the Benton County prosecutor and an ASP investigator who informed her they would be looking into Cradduck’s order to backdate Cox’s time and pay sheets, according to the grievance.

On Oct. 13, Cradduck was made aware of the ASP investigation and launched his own investigation to figure out which employees were cooperating with ASP, the grievance states. The same day the sheriff sent text messages to numerous employees stating he was going to find out who reported him to ASP and stated he would submit employees to a lie-detector test, according to the grievance. Cradduck also made statements that he could not trust anyone and discussed with other employees the ways to terminate or demote Holt without it appearing like a retaliation, the grievance states.

On Oct. 20, Holt was told that Cradduck ordered internal affairs to investigate a 10 second video in which Holt was singing a song and referenced Benton County, according to the grievance. The video had been sent to Cradduck’s wife’s phone in September and was not inappropriate or derogatory, the grievance states.

The grievance also notes sheriff’s office employees are advised on a regular basis to contact Cradduck on his wife’s phone.

On Oct. 23, Cradduck also ordered an investigation into whether Holt had used her county-issued vehicle on a vacation over the summer, according to the grievance. Holt assured investigators that she had not and Cradduck was only investigating those who he suspected of being whistleblowers, the grievance states.

The grievance ends with a request for a hearing and asks that Holt be reinstated to her previous position and pay and that the disciplinary action be removed from her personnel file.

5NEWS contacted the Benton County Sheriff’s Office late Thursday and is awaiting a response.