Pennington, Mallory have trial dates set

Court proceedings have been scheduled for former Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington and Jo Nell Mallory, former chief deputy finance director for the sheriff's office.

Pennington is scheduled for an Oct. 10 hearing in Saline County Circuit Court and his trial is scheduled Nov. 20.

Circuit Judge Gary Arnold is presiding in Pennington's case, according to Kristie Petersen, Arnold's trial court assistant.

Mallory is scheduled for a hearing on Oct. 10 and her trial is set for Oct. 16.

Former Pulaski County Circuit Judge John Langston was appointed to preside in Mallory's case after all four circuit judges in Saline County asked not to be assigned to Mallory's case.

"The defendant ... is well known by all the judges, and her husband is the bailiff for Judge (Bobby) McCallister," according to a letter Arnold wrote to the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

Both Pennington and Mallory have been charged with a Class D felony for abuse of public trust for allegedly receiving home improvements in exchange for forgiving sentences and fines, according to an affidavit prepared by Special Agent Rick Newton of the Arkansas State Police.

Pennington and Mallory also are charged with theft of property.

From Jan. 1, 2013, through Nov. 6, 2013, $5,610 from telephone kiosks in the sheriff's office and jail were not deposited, authorities said.

Mallory allegedly admitted to investigators that she took an amount between $2,500 and $3,000 for personal use.

Pennington also allegedly admitted receiving from $700 to $800 of this money from Mallory that he used to pay fines to the Saline County District Court. The fines stemmed from Pennington's arrest on June 29 for public intoxication and resisting arrest.

After pleading guilty to both misdemeanor charges, he was ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and placed on a year on unsupervised probation.

For this incident, Mallory was charged with a Class D felony and Pennington was charged with a misdemeanor charge.

Pennington also was charged with a Class D felony theft of property charge because he allegedly cashed a $1,000 check paid to the Saline County Sheriff's Office and then used the money for personal use. During the legislative audit, he allegedly told auditors he had used the money to buy vests for the department's SWAT team.

Attorney Ray Baxter of Benton will be representing Pennington in the case and Patrick Benca of Little Rock will serve as Mallory's legal counsel.

Deputy Prosecutor Jordan Crews of the Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has been appointed to represent the state in both cases.