Ex-Franklin County sheriff defends tipping off lover

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Kansas sheriff lost his job after telling his lover that she was the subject of a federal drug investigation, but questions remain about the future of the woman, who is now a prosecutor in suburban Kansas City.

Jeffry D. Curry's resignation as Franklin County sheriff went into effect Monday after he agreed to 12-month diversion program in exchange for the dismissal of two criminal counts against him -- felony interference with law enforcement operations and misdemeanor official misconduct.

He had been accused of tipping off former Franklin County Attorney Heather Jones last May that she was the subject of a federal drug investigation after a confidential informant told a sheriff's deputy that Jones had purchased methamphetamine at least twice from an associate of the informant. Jones resigned from her Franklin County post about a week before the drug accusations arose to take a job as assistant district attorney in Johnson County.

Jones' attorney denies the drug allegations, and Jones has not been charged with any crimes. The allegations were included in a petition current Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting filed in February seeking Curry's ouster. The petition was unsealed Monday at the request of several media outlets.

Curry was charged with the misdemeanor for telling Jones about the investigation and the felony for lying to investigators about not having a sexual relationship with her.

Curry's attorney, Trey Pettlon, told reporters that it was widely known that the sheriff had told Jones about the drug claims -- he had even told his staff he was going to tell her -- because it was obvious they were false. Pettlon said Jones is the one who told investigators that Curry had informed her of the claims.

"The allegation that she purchased or used methamphetamine is false," her attorney, Robin Fowler, said in a statement. "She is not now, and never has been, the subject of any federal investigation."

A state drug investigation not only failed to corroborate the information, but also found evidence contradicting the informant's accusation, Fowler said. Hunting's ouster petition doesn't mention that detail, Fowler said, and is unfair to Jones because it protects the privacy of the confidential informant and associate but does not protect her.

"The fact that uncharged and discredited allegations have been made public in this manner is unfair, unjust, and violates the most basic principles of justice in this country," Fowler said.

Jones' boss, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe was surprised by the claims against Jones and expressed frustration that nobody had contacted him about any investigation involving her.

"I have not previously seen or been made privy to the allegations in the ouster petition," Howe told The Associated Press late Monday afternoon. "We have asked the Shawnee County DA, Franklin County attorney and KBI for information related to these allegations and they have refused to provide it. Once we receive all the facts, we will make a decision on this matter."

The Johnson County district attorney's office has dealt with claims of inappropriate sexual conduct and information peddling before. Former county prosecutor Paul Morrison lost his job as Kansas attorney general in 2008 after it was revealed that he had an extramarital affair with a woman who worked for him in the Johnson County office years earlier.

Morrison's mistress, Linda Carter, who was the office's director of administration, said the affair began in September 2005 and continued through his 2006 campaign and after he became attorney general. She alleged that Morrison tried to use her to influence a federal lawsuit against Phill Kline, who lost his attorney general post to Morrison and continued an abortion investigation after he replaced Morrison as Johnson County DA.

Pettlon, Curry's Olathe attorney, also represented Morrison. Pettlon had argued against unsealing the ouster petition because of the potential harm it could cause for Jones.

Hunting did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

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