Missouri sheriff accused of distributing meth

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 4:45 p.m. CDT

VAN BUREN — A southeast Missouri sheriff was charged Monday with distribution of methamphetamine, a drug that has ravaged rural Missouri over the past decade, authorities said.

Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams, 31, was arrested Saturday and has been jailed in a neighboring county on $250,000 cash-only bond. He did not yet have an attorney.

Carter County prosecutor Rocky Kingree said in a statement that Adams was arrested after an investigation by his office, the FBI, Van Buren police, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Kingree declined an interview request.

Evidence is still under review "as to whether more charges will be filed on Adams and other individuals," Kingree said.

A spokesman for the Highway Patrol declined comment, but a news release from the patrol said the investigation had been lengthy.

In January 2010, Adams' home in Ellsinore was destroyed by fire. Authorities said at the time that nothing suspicious was found. Authorities would not say if that fire prompted the meth investigation.

A county deputy was also arrested Saturday, but no formal charges were filed.

Coroner Dennis McSpadden is serving as acting sheriff but has appointed Van Buren city officer Rick Stephens to handle day-to-day operations. McSpadden said the county commission will meet on Tuesday to consider appointing Stephens as acting sheriff.

"It is a sad state of affairs when you have a law enforcement officer tied up in some things he shouldn't be," McSpadden said. "We're trying to get everything back to normal here."

The Highway Patrol and sheriff departments from surrounding counties are helping to cover Carter County, McSpadden said. "There is no lapse in coverage," he said.

Adams was elected sheriff in November 2008, just weeks after the incumbent, 47-year-old Greg Melton, fatally shot himself. Melton's name remained on the ballot as Adams' opponent.

Carter County, with about 5,900 residents, sits in an area known as the Ozark Mountain Foothills, not far from the Arkansas border.

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