Newton County assessor resigned after guilty plea

JASPER, Ark. (KSPR) -- Guilty. That is the plea the Newton County Assessor agreed to take after being accused of stealing more than $11,000 of taxpayer money. Now Sheila McCutcheon is no longer in office nor able to hold office again in Arkansas.

Shelia McCutcheon

"You want thieves working for us?" asked Willard Holt, who is a Newton County resident.

This past year has been tough for many people who live in Newton County. But now Sheila McCutcheon pled guilty to stealing thousands of taxpayer dollars and she is out of the assessor office.

Change is here and people who live in Newton County, like Catherine Peeler, are glad it is over.

"I do wish that everybody's who has been effected will heal from it and offer their forgiveness," Peeler said.

The sheriff said some of the fallout from Sheila McCutcheon's actions is a lack of trust.

"If we're in somewhere and using a credit card, their asking is that yours or the county's? Several comments made like that to us. Hopefully that will all be behind and we won't be getting any more digs," said Newton County Sheriff, Keith Slape.

KSPR News has tried for about a year to talk to other Newton County elected officials on camera.

The sheriff said this new start offers a chance to change.

"I think every office should be very transparent because we work for the general public and we should be transparent on everything we do. I cannot be transparent on active investigations, but on anything else I can," stated Sheriff Slape.

Peeler's father and his family taught her:

"Make sure you do a job that is worthy of your name,” said Peeler.

That is a creed she hopes whoever succeeds McCutcheon will follow.

"I hope that they handle themselves with as much integrity as they expected from Sheila and those are some tough shoes to fill that you create for someone else," Peeler finished.

Now county workers said it will take a couple of weeks before this seat will be filled. They expect that to be in May.

The prosecutor tells KSPR News part of the agreement with McCutcheon's lawyer is as follows: she will never serve in office again, will be on probation for five years, and the theft charges
against her daughter-in-law who worked for her in her office are dropped.

Hear more about how the community will heal from the sheriff and prosecutor by clicking the above videos.