Ouster petition ( .PDF )
Franklin County case timeline
Investigation into Franklin County Sheriff's Office
A sexual affair, lying to state investigators, and allegations that a former Franklin County Attorney bought methamphetamine were at the center of criminal charges against former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry, according to documents released publicly for the first time Monday.
Curry, whose resignation as sheriff was effective Monday, entered into a diversion program on two criminal charges Monday during a preliminary hearing in the case. The diversion program, which is similar to probation, puts Curry under court supervision for a year. He also will lose his Kansas law enforcement certification.
The court documents unsealed by Senior Judge John Sanders on Monday revealed the origin of the criminal charges and ouster petition filed against Curry and Deputy Jerrod Fredricks in February.
The ouster petition, which had previously been sealed by a Franklin County judge, alleges that in May 2012, a confidential informant told a Franklin County Sheriff's Office deputy that Heather Jones, who resigned her position as Franklin County Attorney May 22, had purchased methamphetamine on two occasions while she held the county attorney position.
However, the allegations that Jones bought drugs was strongly refuted by her attorney in a news release issued following the court hearings.
According to the documents, Curry had an ongoing sexual relationship with Jones — who had served as Franklin County Attorney since 2004 — and tipped her off that she had been implicated in a drug investigation. Curry lied to state investigators about his relationship with Jones, according to the documents.
Curry's actions led to the felony obstruction of justice charge and a misdemeanor official misconduct charge, which were filed against him about a month ago.
On Monday, prosecution on those charges was suspended, as Curry and prosecutors agreed to enter into a diversion program for one year. Expletives were hissed from several citizens observing the hearings when prosecutors announced that the charges will be dropped if Curry successfully completes diversion. As part of the agreement, Curry will relinquish his Kansas law enforcement certification for the rest of his life.
A misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice against Fredricks, who was Curry's deputy, also will be dropped in an agreement with prosecutors. In court Monday, prosecutors said Fredricks also had agreed to relinquish his Kansas law enforcement certification. When that occurs, the criminal charges will be dropped.
Unsealing of records
Several attorneys for media outlets were in court Monday and argued for the unsealing of the ouster petition, as well as opening records in the criminal case. Sanders, the senior judge who was brought in for the case, opened the ouster petition but kept the criminal records closed.
Up until Monday, the nature of the case against both Fredricks and Curry — both first arrested Feb. 27 — had been unclear.
"There just simply are not enough factual circumstances that are compelling enough to outweigh the public's right to know," Sanders said of his ruling.
Curry's defense attorney, Trey Pettlon, had filed briefs with the court asking that the records remain sealed, arguing that the privacy rights of a "third party," who turned out to be Jones, would be violated if the ouster petition was unsealed, because the allegations against her had yet to be proven.
Following Sanders' decision Monday, Overland Park attorney Robin Fowler, who represents Jones, also argued for keeping the records sealed, but Sanders declined to reverse his decisions.
In a news release, Fowler said the release of the ouster petition "gives a misleading and inaccurate description of the investigation involving Heather Jones."
Fowler said that the petition "neglects to point out that the confidential source has since that time been contradicted by at least two sources whom the C.I. claimed would corroborate his/her version of events."
The release also included a strong denial that Jones was involved illegal drug activity.
"Heather Jones has broken no law, and committed no crime," he said. "The allegation that she purchased or used methamphetamine is false."
Jones, who became an assistant district attorney in Johnson County after resigning her post in Franklin County, still is employed in Johnson County, according to county representatives.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe had previously declined to comment on the case. Howe could not be reached for comment Monday.
Jones has not been arrested or charged, but prosecutors Monday said the Kansas Bureau of Investigations — which conducted the investigation into Curry and Fredricks — was still investigating.
Under Kansas law Franklin County Undersheriff Steve Lunger serves as temporary sheriff. Curry's successor is to be nominated by the Franklin County Republicans, the local political party holding the office. That nomination will then be sent to the governor for approval.