Franklin County's sheriff and a top deputy appear to have averted a criminal trial in the case against them.
Charges against Sheriff Jeff Curry and Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff's office, appeared likely to be dismissed Monday during a scheduled preliminary hearing for the Ottawa men at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St. As part of the proceedings, Curry was set to accept a "diversion" and he and Fredricks both agreed to surrender their law enforcement licenses and never again seek such licensing.
The agreement on Curry's and Fredricks' case is tentative with the case moved to the deferred prosecution docket. Both men now are on paid administrative leave from the sheriff's office.
Curry was arrested Feb. 27 by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Fredricks also faced a felony charge of interference with law enforcement.
Details of the allegations against Curry have been sealed by order of the Franklin County District Court, though no reason for sealing the documents has been given. In response to The Herald's recent court efforts to unseal the documents, the prosecutor in the case said last week releasing the records would not jeopardize Curry's right to a fair trial and agreed the information was a matter of public interest.
At today's hearing, Senior Judge John E. Sanders indicated public records relating to Curry's diversion would include information on the allegations against him. It was not immediately clear if those details would include all the allegations leveled against the sheriff. Curry's lawyer, Trey Pettlon, argued in a written response against unsealing the court documents in the civil and criminal cases relating to the sheriff's arrest.
Curry, who has served the sheriff's office in some capacity since 1994, announced his resignation plans March 21 during the first hearing of the ouster proceedings filed against him after his arrest. Appointed sheriff in 2010 and then elected in 2012, Curry's resignation was to become official today.
Undersheriff Steve Lunger is to serve as acting sheriff until the Franklin County Republican Central Committee appoints a nominee to fill the vacated position. The nominee must then be approved by Gov. Sam Brownback. The Republican group has slated a convention for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm streets, Ottawa, to determine the sheriff nominee.
For more details on this breaking news story, See Tuesday's Herald.