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Sheriff Cory Hutcheson Vowed to Clean Up His Rural Missouri County. Now He's the One Facing Prison

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The boy sheriff has become a local celebrity, and he has no plans to go quietly now that he's facing criminal charges.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety took emergency action after Hutcheson's arrest to suspend his peace officer's license, meaning he can no longer make arrests. But that doesn't prevent him from keeping his title, showing up for work every day and collecting his salary. Although Hutcheson has delegated the criminal investigation side of the operation to his chief deputy, he still runs the force as an administrator, according to a sheriff's office supervisor.

"The sheriff is still the sheriff," Captain Barry Morgan says.

Hutcheson began a social media blitz to defend himself the day after his arrest.

"The allegations made against Sheriff Hutcheson are demonstrably false and will be resolved through the legal process," read a statement posted on the office's Facebook page. A petition to "Support and Retain Sheriff Cory Hutcheson" appeared online the same day, quickly gathering more than 500 signatures.

An online fundraiser to "Support Sheriff Cory Hutcheson's Legal Defense" asked donors to help raise $35,000 to cover his legal bills. Hutcheson is being represented by hotshot Clayton defense attorney Scott Rosenblum. (In a brief statement, Rosenblum says that he does not feel it is appropriate to try cases in the media, adding, "I feel very comfortable that Mr. Hutcheson will be vindicated.")

The page claimed that the sheriff had "all but eradicated illegal drugs from our county," making 80 drug arrests in his first 90 days in office. "Those hard-fought gains were all but lost in early April, when in response to complaints filed by the former Sheriff and one disgruntled resident, the Attorney General's Office charged Hutcheson with a litany of offenses, most dating back years ago to the previous Sheriff's administration," the statement continued.

Hutcheson linked to the fundraiser on his personal Facebook page, and a nearly identical plug was posted on the sheriff's office Facebook page. Hutcheson has helpfully noted that donors can send money directly to him via a PayPal account linked to his email address.

Meanwhile, at the sheriff's office, the stream of mug shots continues. The sheriff's Facebook page recently posted pictures of a handful of marijuana plants found under a house on the eastern edge of the county. The post was followed by well-wishers, cheering them on.

Morgan says that deputies give Hutcheson regular updates on the arrests and cases, but everyone is abiding by the rules as they keep chasing cases.

"We're not going to stop because of these allegations," he says.

That's welcome news to the sheriff's supporters. Shannon Jenkins, 33, went to high school with Hutcheson and says she is praying he is able to keep his job.

"I think the county would be lost without him."

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