First Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Fletcher Long, Jr. announced today the arrest of five men in connection with the theft of soybeans and corn from Morris Granary of McCrory over a multi-week period in December 2014 and January 2015.
Arrested were Sylvester “Pug” Hall of Pumpkin Bend; Booker Pennington, Michael Smith, Ricky Dale Blunt and Charles Johns of McCrory. Each defendant was arrested on 14 separate counts of Theft of Property. Each offense constitutes a separate Class C Felony punishable by 3 to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, a fine of up to $10,000.00 or both.
The arrest warrants alleged that Hall, who served as a part-time officer with the Augusta Police Department prior to his arrest, owned a grain trucking business operating under the name T&H Farms. This business had payment information on file with a grain processing facility in Helena, Arkansas. Pennington, who was employed as a full-time police officer with the City of McCrory prior to his arrest, drove a truck on a part time basis for Hall. Smith was employed by Morris Granary at the time of the theft and would allegedly contact Hall or Pennington to advise them when it was safe to drive through the granary and receive soybeans or corn belonging to Morris Granary. Smith would provide fake documentation to make it appear as if the loadouts were proper. Johns and Blunt were also employed by Morris Granary at the time of the theft and would participate in loading the trucks and making
certain that management was kept in the dark about the thefts. After receiving a load, Pennington would deliver it to the processing facility at Helena and present it to that facility as grain belonging to T&H Farms. Hall would then pick up or otherwise receive checks made payable to T&H Farms and deposit the money into a bank account controlled by him before paying his co-conspirators an agreed upon share of the proceeds.
Upon their initial arrest the total amount alleged to have been gained illegally was in excess of $134,000.00. Law enforcement officials reported that the figure was expected to rise significantly as the investigation continues.
The investigation was led by the Arkansas State Police and the Office of First Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Fletcher Long, Jr. and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Bell, with assistance from the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Department and McCrory Police Department. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty.