Article 5: Dec. 12, 2021
By Chris Willingham
Fifth in a series
A letter from former sheriff’s narcotics investigator John Jones to county commissioners and this newspaper alleges that undersheriff Larry Hendrix failed to investigate a gang rape while head of the Criminal Investigation Division.
Jones also laid out specific allegations of sheriff Kevin Clardy’s partiality to Captain of All Officers Alicia Manning and Clardy’s willful maladministration. Both of those are criteria for removal from office, according to state statutes.
Aside from Jones’ resignation Dec. 2 and Investigator Devin Black being fired Tuesday, two additional officers resigned late this week, sources told the paper.
Others within the department have told this newspaper they are actively looking for other jobs and will quit once they find other employment.
Manning addressed the series of sheriff’s department controversies on Facebook Friday afternoon saying “The only people who suffer at the hands of power plays, politics and personal agendas are the victims of crimes. The real things we don’t talk about.
“I am not going to stoop to the level of character assassinations and boy there are plenty.”
“I am confident that God will deal with everyone. Pay $0.75 cents for that,” she said in a post Friday afternoon.”
In sending his letter to this newspaper and county commissioners on Friday Jones said he may follow-up with additional letters of allegations.
His letter is as follows:
To whom it may concern:
I began my employment at the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office in March of 2018 as patrolman. The Sheriff’s Office already at the time had strong inner turmoil. Larry Hendrix openly hated Ken Jennings and almost everyone there openly hated Larry Hendrix.
Ken eventually got fired and Larry was made the undersheriff. Shortly after that, Alicia Manning was made Captain.
I already had no respect for Larry Hendrix at this time just from experience with him as a supervisor. For example, when he was the CID Commander, he would make fun of me to other employees about how I lived with my grandmother and had “no responsibilities,” and for these reasons I was still a kid. Maybe his opinion, but certainly not something supervisors should be telling other employees.
I also knew Larry was extremely lazy and I didn’t feel like he was working in this county for the right reasons. When I was on patrol,
I took a report of a woman who claimed she was raped at gunpoint by two men in her home. I followed all protocols and called out the investigator on call, Larry Hendrix, who did come out. The woman got a SAIN exam. I did a very detailed report. The woman claimed she was duct taped and tided up while raped. She stated that the tape may still be at her home.
Larry never followed up or even reached out to the woman again. He never went to her home or attempted to collect any evidence. I knew right then Larry was not at the Sheriff’s Office for the right reasons. I knew right then he did not care about the people in this county. And now this is the number two man in charge of the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff was aware of this, but again, nothing was addressed.
Alicia just continued to climb ranks at the Sheriff’s Office until she made number three in charge. All this with zero experience as a patrolman at all. In charge of all employees, but she really had no idea what those employees do.
The Sheriff’s Office admin was extremely mad after the first newspaper came out addressing the rumors. They threatened to write search warrants for everyone’s phones to find out who told the paper so that they could fire them. They even talked to some employees and questioned nearly all of them about who was talking. This would cause major problems and a big lawsuit, since a person is allowed to talk to the media and is protected by federal and stated law.
I could address the rumors of sexual relationships between the sheriff and Alicia, but I have no firsthand knowledge of it and don’t want to talk about something unless I am certain. I do feel it is inappropriate. I do feel like the sheriff showed favoritism to her for whatever reason. I saw firsthand him being defensive for her when he wasn’t for others. I saw firsthand him go sit in her office for hours and have conversations when others couldn’t even get the sheriff to talk to them about work.
Larry, who is the number two man in charge, continually ruins relationships with other employees and kills morale in the office. He pulled up to some Choctaw Nation Tribal Policemen in Hugo and asked them what they are doing other than “messing things up and pissing people off.” He told an employee that he locked a door allowing access to his, the sheriff’s, and Alicia’s office, because
“He’s the undersheriff and he can.” He told another employee who asked to go to CLEET to leave his office because he was not in the mood to talk about it. CLEET is a time-crunch academy to get into and this officer was just asking if it was possible.
Larry sends out letters to the department telling them to stop rumors and backstabbing, and in the same day goes around asking other people when I am going to Arkansas to work. Breaking the very rules he lays out in the letter to “All Sheriff Office Employees.” The same thing Nahmee Jones was fired for.
Alicia has told me that Kevin did not want Larry to be the undersheriff and he only was because he had no other choice. She told me it would have been her, but the public would not have taken it well.
When I spoke with the sheriff about this, he told me that Larry needed to stop that stuff. However, nothing was addressed or done about it.
Kevin Clardy drove his county truck with lights and siren on to Choctaw County because Alicia Manning’s daughter was in a terrible vehicle accident. But he couldn’t even come by the hospital on Nov. 29 when I was admitted in Idabel. On Dec. 2, 2021, I had surgery in Idabel. Kevin Clardy and other administrators knew this. Not one of them called or even texted to check on me. When I brought this to Kevin’s attention later, he told me, “Well I was told you were trying to sabotage me so that you could run for sheriff.” I asked him why he didn’t ask me about it, and he said there was too much going on.
I also learned from Kyler Clardy that I was the only person told that Alicia Manning was going to write search warrants for every employee’s phone and that since it got to the paper, they were certain I was the one leaking all “inaccurate information.” Not only is this not true, but it would also be within my constitutional rights to do so.
Kyler also informed me that Devin Black was fired for “violating a policy too many times.” The policy he is referring to is that the sheriff or undersheriff are the only ones allowed to talk, to give statements to the media. However, the current administration has applied this policy to any contact with the local newspaper, period. This is not the point of the policy and is being misused.
Furthermore, during a recent interview between Kevin Clardy and Chris Willingham, I personally heard Alicia Manning tell Chris Willingham that he could come to her directly and ask any questions about any cases she has working because her cases are not public. This was said in front of Kevin Clardy, and he agreed with her. The policy either applies to all or none, but to enforce on some and not others further justifies my later argument of gross partiality.
Also, if they are going to fire people for violating policy, the sheriff’s office has a policy that all duty belts and attachments shall be made of the same material. Why isn’t this enforced? If an employee of the sheriff’s office wants to have another job, they must submit that in written form to the administration. Why isn’t this enforced? However, another policy can be twisted to violate constitutional rights and terminate people?
I feel like there is more than enough reason to say the sheriff shows gross partiality in office. I also don’t feel like it’s unfair to call it a maladministration. There are many more stories I could tell, but I can’t get it all on paper. What’s going on at the sheriff’s office is a disgrace to the county and needs to be addressed.