The Prairie County Circuit Clerk is facing charges for allegedly giving an Arkansas Department of Correction inmate a cell phone.
Vanessa Peters, 53, was arrested last week, charged with furnishing, possessing or using prohibited articles. Prairie County District Judge Jim Rhodes released Peters on her own recognizance on October 21, the same day she was arrested.
As of Tuesday, Peters has been suspended with pay until this is resolved. According to the arrest warrant, Peters became friends with inmate Jason Thresher in December 2014 and that's when she bought him a cell phone.
The relationship turned sexual in January of 2015 Peters said in a statement, but she added that she never had sex with him in the court house.
According to the arrest affidavit, she also stated that Thresher asked her to buy him a cellphone so he could communicate while he was out working in the county; Peters also stated this in the affidavit:
I knew he was not supposed to be in possession of the cell phone when I gave it to him.
Thresher's history: Thresher was sentenced to ADC in 2006 on manufacturing, delivery and possession of a controlled substance. In August of 2013, Thresher was transferred from ADC to the Prairie County Jail on the 309 work release program.
Sheriff Gary Burnett tells Channel 7 News as soon as they found the cell phone they sent him back to ADC, which according to the jail, was in August of this year.
Burnett said, Prairie County Judge Mike Skarda found the cell phone inside of a work truck that Thresher was using while working at the Prairie County Road Department.
How the inmate managed to keep a cell phone hidden from December 2014 up until just a couple of months ago is still unknown at this time. When the county judge found the cell phone is also still unknown, however, on September 18 a state police special agent began his investigation.
Thresher was eligible for parole in April 2016, however, that could change following this incident. Channel 7 News continues to seek more information on this from ADC.
KATV did reach out to the Prairie County Election Commission; Chairman Rita Dobson gave us this statement:
As election commissioners we cannot get involved in anything like this, we have to stay neutral.
17th Judicial Circuit Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Reed is assigned to this case, but she could not comment; neither could County Judge Skarda according to his legal counsel.
Channel 7 News also reached out to Peters' attorney, Hubert Alexander, but we have not heard back from him yet; calls made to Peters went unanswered.
Peters' first appearance in court is expected to be in the Prairie County Circuit Court in Des Arc on November 17; she's expected to enter a plea of not guilty according to Reed.