Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The Associated Press

Ex-police chief, wife sentenced for corruption

A former small-town Arkansas police chief and his wife were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Tuesday for running a criminal organization dealing in drugs and jewelry.

Prosecutors portrayed ex-Lonoke Chief Jay Campbell as running his department as a king and ignoring claims that his wife, Kelly, was having a sexual relationship with an inmate.

Special Circuit Judge John Cole followed jury recommendations and sentenced the former chief to 40 years in prison. Kelly Campbell was sentenced to 20 years.

The couple declined to answer questions from reporters as they left the courthouse in handcuffs.

Free on bond

Despite the underlying allegations that led to convictions on dozens of counts, Cole said he would allow Jay Campbell and his wife Kelly to go free on bond when their lawyers file notices of appeal.

The judge set bond at $250,000 for Jay Campbell and $100,000 for Kelly Campbell.

Prosecutor Lona McCastlain said the bonds were “a slap in the people of Lonoke’s face.”

“If they were average criminals that would not have happened. If they were average criminals they would be in the pen while their attorneys filed their appeals,” McCastlain said.

Patrick Benca, an attorney for Jay Campbell, said he would ask the judge for a new trial, and would not file an appeal until after a ruling on the request.

Kelly Campbell’s attorney, Mark Hampton, said he filed a motion for a new trial Tuesday.

“This case is full of more errors than any 10 cases I’ve seen combined,” Hampton said.

Trials are pending for former Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett, who is charged with misdemeanor theft, and two others accused in participating in the criminal organization.

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