Egypt city officials being sued for denying records requests

Lawsuit alleges small town corruption including unjust arrests of plaintiff for merely making records requests

EGYPT, Ark. – Stephen Warren wanted to know the qualifications of the City of Egypt’s police chief. The mayor told him to “file something in court if he had a problem…” with the chief and so he did on Tuesday.

But before Tuesday happened, he had been arrested for disorderly conduct numerous times and treated with disdain during each records request, the lawsuit alleges. He’s asking for the mayor, police chief, city attorney and city recorder to be charged with crimes and to be forced to comply with his open records request under Arkansas Freedom of Information Act law.

Warren is represented by Attorney Zachary Morrison of Jonesboro. In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, October 8 in Craighead County Circuit Court, is filed against the City of Egypt itself, Mayor Jerry Cook, City Recorder/Treasurer Velva Joy Lingo, Chief of Police Gerald Goza, and City Attorney Rhonda Davis. All are being sued individually and in their official capacity. Egypt is a Craighead County town with a population of 112 in the 2010 Census.


The lawsuit states that on or about August 1, 2019, Warren asked Mayor Cook for information about the “qualifications and certifications” of Chief Goza. The lawsuit alleges the mayor bluntly told him he wouldn’t provide any documentation, despite a verbal request being enough to legally compel a public official to release public records.

“File something in Court,” the lawsuit claims the mayor said.

But Warren continued trying, his suit details.

The plaintiff emailed a specific Freedom of Information Act request to the city’s police chief on August 12 for a copy of a police report from July 11 when one of Warren’s neighbor’s had a four-wheeler seized. He also asked for phone records between Chief Goza and other defendants, meetings between Goza and other defendants, and body camera recordings of the incident on July 11. On August 13, another request was emailed requesting copies of pre-employment examinations and background checks made of Goza. The city attorney claimed an exemption to the release of personal information and the lawsuit states did so illegally.

“No request to inspect, copy, or obtain copies of public records shall be denied on the ground that information exempt from disclosure is commingled with nonexempt information…” the lawsuit states.

Further, on August 13, Warren said he personally appeared at Egypt City Hall. He made an open records request to inspect the city’s financial records and other records but the lawsuit states the defendant, Lingo, told him no. The plaintiff claims Lingo admitted to this in a court filing from another matter.

“I told him, no, he was not going through my records,” the suit claims Lingo admitted to.

The lawsuit says Lingo also insisted Warren submit a written records request. This is not the law. A verbal request must be honored.

During that incident, Warren was arrested by the police chief for disorderly conduct. This occurred after Lingo alleged she was “fearful” of Warren. Warren states this was untrue and she showed contempt toward him, not fear. According to the lawsuit, video taken by the plaintiff shows the chief saying “the Mayor wants him arrested.” Warren’s vehicle was then towed away under orders of the chief, despite it being parked on public property at the city hall during business hours.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, as the lawsuit points out, the city council meeting was later that evening. This impaired Warren’s ability to attend.

The lawsuit alleges Mayor Cook admitted to the plaintiff’s wife he had him arrested because “HE (Mayor) is NOT GOING TO HAVE STEVE (Plaintiff) BOTHER MS. JOY (Defendant Lingo) WITH THIS FOIA CRAP.”

“FOIA crap” is, however, the definition of their job.

Another arrest was mentioned of Warren by the police chief during the verbal request for previously e-mailed FOIA information. Apparently, a domestic order of protection was also unsuccessfully filed against Warren by both the Egypt Mayor and Lingo.

“An open and transparent government is the touchstone of our democracy,” Attorney Morrison told NEA Report. “We decided to file the Freedom of Information lawsuit after it became apparent that Egypt city officials had no interest in following the letter of the law. Mr. Warren’s legitimate requests for records and information have been blatantly ignored, and we looking forward to presenting this matter to the Circuit Court of Craighead County.”

A phone call to the Egypt City Hall by NEA Report was not answered at 11:10 AM Wednesday morning.

The lawsuit asks the court to find the defendants failed to comply with Arkansas law and to immediately fulfill all requests he has made. The lawsuit requests the defendants be found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor for violating the FOIA requests and asks for them to be removed from their positions. The suit also calls for attorney’s fees to be paid.




23 Comments

  1. My question is this: If the incident started because of a neighbor’s four-wheeler was seized, why was this Warren guy involved? If it wasn’t his property, they couldn’t tell him anyway. That is against the privacy laws.

    • goza called in the model # not vin # its like he called in a white f150 my friends 4 wheeler was a 2002 the one that poped up was a 2006 goza copyed the vin off the report of the stolen one not off the 4 wheeler itself after 5 days goza called my friend told him it would cost him 380 $ to get his 4 wheeler back and then hung up the phone

  2. This guy is just causing trouble! I’ve asked for the same information over a year ago and was provided it with no problem. I didn’t act a fool when I requested it either. With no problems, the mayor gave me all of the information. This guy is just wanting to cause problems. Even after I requested that information from them, I never had problems with them. They even came and helped me when I was flooded in, they provided my family a place to stay until flood waters went down, and the mayor and chief even made sure we were fed and cared for and had everything we needed. They never gave me a problem for asking for the Chiefs records. And did not treat me any different after. People need to realize that they are doing a great job at running that town and I have seen nothing but good come from them being the officials they are. They are caring, helpful, honest, and hard workers. It would be a senseless act to remove any of them from their positions because one person is making things up and causing trouble. I know the history behind the guy who is doing all of this. I lived near him. He was always causing trouble, being loud and obnoxious, and trying to start a fight with whoever he could . He tried attacking me once because I walked too close to his property.guy is psycho and liar. He is the ” suing type” if ya know what I mean. Anything to not have to work.

    • I have requested all of this information before. They are actually clean records. He actually does alot of good for the community. He wasn’t arrested for asking for the papers, he made that up, he was arrested because when they met him to give him the pap4, he tried starting a fight and was screaming and yelling profanity and acting crazy. I seen it myself. I was across from city hall. Dude is just nuts

      • How that crow taste is all IAM going to say wolf in sheep clothing to the ppl of week minds that follow blindly of the cliff when if he helped you so much why would you ask for his personal file and if you did why didn’t you investagats this cause I’ll tell you why you wasn’t on of his victoms

        • First off, you do not know how to spell and your wording does not make any sense, so I can tell just from that, that you are a complete idiot! And the reason I asked for records were for personal reasons that do not pertain to you! You got your charges dropped, correct? Goza resigned? Right? What else more do you want? You no good piece of crap trying what you can to take money from your own community!!! Grow up and move on in life you weasel! You trying to sue them makes you look like a total scum bag!

          • If the man hadn’t done what he did things would be the same. Hat off to you sir. Also I believe the person in question was arrested when he worked for Loomis Fargo. Dig and you shall find!

          • That’s the problem with the world these days! Too nosey, dig, dig!!!! Give me a break. How about mind your own business! Big whoops, he didn’t have a high school diploma, most people his age doesnt! He still performed his job duties. He did his job and worked hard. He wasn’t lazy, like alot of folks, and he isn’t out there selling and making dope. No, he was working! And if he is in trouble for working, shame on the entire system! What a let down this world has become! Ha! Yea, he should face consequences for the fake diploma, but nothing to the extent that this is going to! Bunch of offended dramatic crybabies these days!

        • Also, lay off the dope, my ex hangs out with you and he told me about you. Posting stuff at 2-3 am . normal people sleep!

    • Yea some people work nights, but since you are so good at digging, go dig and you will see he does not! And even if he did, what I said still does not change about him and my ex doing dope together!

      • Lady you are getting the wrong picture here, it’s not just about Egypt ar. It’s all over hometown America. People are seeing it for what it is. Corrupt

        • Oh I know that’s the truth, if they want to keep going, theres a town right next door to Egypt, their officer harrasses people on a daily basis for his “friends” . makes me wonder how legit he is. This whole world is corrupt ha

  3. I don’t know the accuser or the city officials but i do know the police chief and don’t let his good deeds fool you.He’s as crooked as a used car salesman or politician.I’ll bet when this investigation is complete that ya’ll will find out that his intentions on the forged documents were purposely done to falsify his records.Also being a citizen of a town,every citizen has the legal right thru the law under the foia to verbally requests city documents as well as finances including profits-expenditure-saleries and basically all city related documents.That would be city officials using their positions as authority to conceal and that in itself is against the law.Believe me cause i’ve seen junk like this happen in another town.Bottom line is like everyone says show me a politician that is not crooked?

    • while put small town citizen no one should be a victom of the ppl that swore to protect the rights god gave us no matter thier belives or differences are disability or wealth nor color or gender ive lived here 13 years so ive seen this town go from maybery to germany in less then 3 years and once the other ppl goza victomized sue the city and thier storys get told the light of justice will shine on the very ppl that new goza ways and protected him this long how many happy familys this man destroyed not doing legal stops and investagations untill then angie and lady if you think calling me a troble maker and crazy 2 ppl that dont like me isnt bad cause i helped way more exposing this which should of never happened at all if goverment did thier job in the first place and a police chief that doesnt know thiers no such thing as a online state cerdified highshool eqivence shouldnt be in charge guarding a mall more or less stealing citizens 4 wheelers bye calling in the moble number instead of the vin number and calling the man 4 days later that dispatch made a mistake which is a lie cause goza a idiot that cant tell a 2002 moble and a 2006 or even where the vin number is but calls up tells man good news bad news the 4 wheeler i towed that you had the titile to key owners manual and owned 3 years isnt the 2006 stolen 6 mounths ago so you can go pick it up but hurry they close in 15 min if you dont pick up now at a cost of 383$ they will add another 35$ storage fees and when owner complained to mayor mayor told him like the mayor tells everyone with a complaint fillsomthing in court my officer did do anything wrong and iam not scared to put my real name up here ill say it loud and proud

      • You should have the cash cop looked into! He sends nudes to underage girls amd if you had him checked out, he probably is not legel. And the city of cash also has goza give tickets to those outside of their limits anf I’m one of those and also they let goza work on their city council as he is dressed in full uniforms as an officer. These small towns we live in are all crooks

  4. Well this here sounds identical to what’s going on with the blytheville Arkansas police department,mayor,chief of police and proscuters office ! There’s nothing wrong with us wanting to know any of the things asked but it is against the law not to give it!

    • correct and in open records request they dont have 3 days if the record isnt in storage as in storage doesnt mean in thier decks it mean off the property in a warehouse and in active use they have to give you a time to come view it goverment has more laws protecting them then citizans FOIA is our only tool to get to the truth thgey tryed using the power the ppl gave and intrusted them with in evil ways the documents i ask for was asked for bye channel 8 news they got goza personal file in 3 days took me 3 mounths channel 8 didnt know what to look for i did thats the difference the mayor and goza knew he wasnt suppost to be a cerdified officer of the law i never set out to sue the city but never thought they try to destroy me and force me to move but thank god for attorneys like mark reese and good police officers like david baily.But after all this this ppl still run my city so dont vote for a party nor a friend if you do not trust the person or know about the person you vote for then dont vote if some one been in office too long then look at thier record cause intitelment and alittrel power changes ppl just like money does and ALLWAYS any incounter with any city offical no matter friend or stranger

  5. I would love to talk more do need some advice from someone who made it threw something like this. Noobe can truly understand how powerless this makes a person and also what it also means for the town

  6. goza called in the model # not vin # its like he called in a white f150 my friends 4 wheeler was a 2002 the one that poped up was a 2006 goza copyed the vin off the report of the stolen one not off the 4 wheeler itself after 5 days goza called my friend told him it would cost him 380 $ to get his 4 wheeler back and then hung up the phone

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  1. City of Egypt bows to FOIA lawsuit, drops “bogus” charges against man – NEA Report

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