Who's in charge of the people in charge in your county? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Who's in charge of the people in charge in your county?

Hayti Mayor Bobby Watkins and an alderman stand among seven accused of stealing funds from Pemiscot County. Hayti Mayor Bobby Watkins and an alderman stand among seven accused of stealing funds from Pemiscot County.
Former Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams has been charged with two felonies of distributing meth and cocaine. Former Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams has been charged with two felonies of distributing meth and cocaine.
Caruthersville Police Chief Chris Riggs and another member of the police force face forgery and stealing charges. Caruthersville Police Chief Chris Riggs and another member of the police force face forgery and stealing charges.
(KFVS) -

It's a story Heartland News has covered over and over this year.  Across the Heartland, top officials are in trouble with the law. So, now we're asking: Who's in charge of the people in charge?

Just Monday we learned Hayti's Mayor, Bobby Watkins and an alderman stand among seven accused of stealing funds from Pemiscot County.

Add that to accusations of forgery and stealing against Caruthersville Police Chief Chris Riggs and another member of the police force earlier this year.

All of these individuals are accused of taking funds actually meant to better serve you.

"Pemiscot County is basically a broke county," said Pemiscot County Sheriff Tommy Greenwell.

The alleged misconduct impacting both Hayti and Caruthersville surround forged checks and faulty book keeping.

Riggs and a second officer face numerous criminal counts.  

We went to the Missouri State Auditor's office about these so called white collar crimes.

"It's up to the elected officials to make sure everything is above board," said Spence Jackson, of the Missouri State Auditor's Office. "But it's also up to the people to be a part of the process. They go hand in hand." 

We learned the people played a role in these cases.  Sheriff Tommy Greenwell says a confidential informant led authorities to question invoices allegedly turned in by Hayti's mayor and six others.

Meanwhile, regular state audits often catch trouble, but the people can request one.

"They can petition our office for a petition audit," said Jackson. "They do that quite often. Whether or not we step in comes down to the number of signatures. That's based on the number of voters in the last Governor's race and the size of the community."  

Citizens or employees of the city or county can also take concerns to the city attorney, or county prosecutor if you suspect wrong doing.  

When it comes to the Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff, Commissioners, and the circuit judge form one system of checks and balances. City Police and City Councils also typically look out for one another.  

It's not just money. Others allegedly abuse their position in other ways. When it comes to former Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams, court records say a confidential informant took information and potential evidence to investigators. That informant says he used meth with Adams for several months.

Other sheriff's like Rick Walter of Scott County say they still have faith in the system. There are enough checks and balances. If you do something wrong on either side, Walter says the law will catch up with you.

"The system is actually quite good," said Walter. "There's also someone you can go to that could initiate an investigation."

According to the Attorney General's office, they can be called once there's an investigation. The Highway Patrol can also get involved.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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