JOHNSON COUNTY, Ark. – Johnson County Sheriff James Stephens has resigned his office and pleaded guilty to felony drug possession after his arrest last December.

An Oct. 25 letter from 21st Judicial District Prosecutor Kevin R. Holmes states that Stephens has resigned his office effective midnight. Shortly after submitting his resignation Stephens pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance in Crawford County Circuit Court.

Stephens received a sentence of six years suspended imposition of sentence, a $10,000 fine, $190 in court costs, a $150 drug task force fee and a $250 DNA fee. As part of his sentence, Stephens must not commit any crime punishable by imprisonment during those six years and must pay all his fines and fees within 60 days, along with other terms and conditions.

Stephen’s plea agreement requires him to surrender his law enforcement certificates by noon on Friday, October 27, 2023. As a convicted felon, Stephens is no longer qualified to serve as an elected official in the State of Arkansas, according to the prosecutor.

Holmes said he had notified the Johnson County prosecuting attorney of Stephen’s conviction.

Stephens had been arrested by Arkansas State Police after a Dec. 3, 2022 traffic stop north of Alma. During a search of his car, drugs and pills were found, which he said he had gotten from a confidential informant in Crawford County.

It was confirmed at the time that the ASP stopped Stephens at the request of the FBI. The FBI stated the request was made “in reference to a corruption and narcotics investigation.” 

Shortly after the traffic stop, Stephens took to social media to apologize to Johnson County residents and announce his resignation from the day-to-day operations of the department.