The wife of Alexander Mayor Paul Mitchell pleaded guilty to several drug charges in Saline County Circuit Court on Jan. 3.
Judge Grisham Phillips sentenced Genieve Marie Mitchell, 33, to two years in a Community Correction Center followed by a one-year suspended sentence.
Overall, Mitchell pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of methamphetamine, failure to appear in Benton District Court and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia stemming from two arrests in 2011.
It was late Feb. 25, 2011, when Bryant Police Officer Nick Johnston stopped a vehicle with fictitious tags and arrested two adults in the car. Johnston had allowed the driver to call Genieve Mitchell to pick up a child who was riding in the back seat. When Mitchell arrived at the scene, the officer noticed the driver handing items to Mitchell and stuffing them in her jacket.
When Johnston searched Mitchell, he found methamphetamine in her pocket and a methamphetamine pipe in her purse. Johnston reported that when he repeatedly asked for her name, Mitchell did not respond, but later said "she wouldn't because the news media would be here." Mitchell also reportedly denied officers' request to search her vehicle and asked them to call the Alexander mayor.
"Mitchell later explained that her husband is the mayor of Alexander," Johnston said in the report.
A Bryant detective said the infant was released to the custody of a woman who later arrived and that Mitchell was charged with obstructing governmental operations, felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. A detective also told the Courier that Mitchell has an arrest record for drug charges in Benton dating back to 2007 and that she was on probation during the Feb. 25, 2011, arrest.
When Mitchell failed to appear in court on June 13, 2011, for the Feb. 25, 2011, arrest, a warrant was issued and the next day authorities took Mitchell into custody at her home in Alexander. Officers reportedly found Mitchell sleeping in a bed with methamphetamine on a nightstand within arm’s reach and later found a meth pipe inside her purse.
"Clearly, Mrs. Mitchell has little regard for herself or the court system," Saline County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Walton said. "Hopefully, she will take advantage of the drug treatment provided while she is incarcerated."
Outside the courtroom on Tuesday, after his wife was immediately taken into custody, a somber Paul Mitchell said, "You marry for better or worse, and I hope we can put this behind us."
The Alexander mayor has continued to tell The Saline Courier reporters that illegal drugs are not a part of his life, despite his wife admitting on Tuesday that she had twice had methamphetamine in her possession, including at the Mitchells' home in Alexander.
"I've never used drugs in my life," Paul Mitchell told a Courier report on June 10, 2011. "That's one thing that I don't tolerate is drugs. If the City Council wants me to take a drug test, I'll do it every day if they want to pay for it at $50 a pop."
In response to the first arrest of the mayor's wife, the Alexander City Council called a special meeting on March 5, 2011, and passed an ordinance for all city employees to undergo criminal background checks and drug screenings.
Several aldermen then volunteered to be drug-tested, but Mitchell said the mayor's position and the council members are elected officials, not city employees. The mayor contended that, in accordance with state law, there cannot be an ordinance forcing them to undergo drug tests or background checks.
After the second arrest of Genieve Mitchell and despite methamphetamine found in the mayor's home, Paul Mitchell continued to deny using drugs. When asked by the Courier if he is using or has used methamphetamine, he said, "no, absolutely not."
When asked by a Courier report in July 2011 about taking a drug test, the mayor said he did take a drug test, but did not remember the exact date. Alexander Police Chief Horace Walters, who has a publicly reported tumultuous relationship with the mayor, told the Courier in July that Paul Mitchell had submitted a drug test from Concentra Medical Center in Little Rock and that the mayor had tested clean, but emphasized that the drug test was submitted months after the council's passage of the ordinance.
"(Mitchell) also gave a urine test and not a hair follicle test," Walters said. "Two of the biggest signs of meth use are deterioration of teeth at the gum level and extreme loss of weight. The mayor has both and he took a drastic decline in health since that council meeting in February (2011)."
Mitchell responded, "I don't have anything to hide. I will take a drug test anytime the council wants to pay for it. It's the taxpayers' money, but I'll do it every day if they ask."
Genieve Mitchell was represented in court Tuesday by attorney Mark Jesse.