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PARAGOULD, Ark. – Lt. Scott Pillow got caught stealing over $30,000 in what he thought was drug money, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. It was actually a trap laid by Federal authorities to catch him after they became suspicious that he was stealing money from drug busts.
Until Wednesday, Pillow was in charge of the narcotics unit at Greene County Sheriff’s Office. He was fired yesterday, the sheriff said in a statement. He only has been in the job since June, previously working for Arkansas State Police.
Now, he’s being indicted by federal authorities.
It began on Monday when FBI agents hid an opened red backpack containing $76,000 in a vehicle in the Lowe’s parking lot in Paragould. Ten bundles of $7,600 were in the backpack. It was a public corruption investigation but Pillow didn’t know that. Instead, the feds called Pillow and told him they were Tennessee law enforcement officers needing help with a drug investigation. They told Pillow they had found a backpack with a meth pipe and cash sticking out of it but needed his help since it was out of their jurisdiction. Pillow was on his way.
Once there, Pillow searched the rental vehicle and recovered the backpack. Undercover agents told Pillow to let them know how much cash he counted. He called them hours later.
$45,600 was the amount he said was in the backpack. It was precisely four $7,600 bundles short. Pillow stood to make $30,400 in stolen money, federal authorities say. He just didn’t know who he was taking it from.
Afterwards, Pillow drove his work vehicle home.
On Tuesday, FBI and other law enforcement officers coalesced at Pillow’s home to execute a search warrant. Pillow was in his truck checking the mail when authorities arrived, boxed him in, and identified themselves. An Arkansas State Police officer who was part of the FBI task force patted him down and found a stack of the stolen money which had been placed in the backpack the day before. The serial numbers matched up. Pillow was arrested.
In the attic of Pillow’s detached garage, they found a safe hidden inside of a cooler. The stolen money was found in the safe.
Pillow falsified county documents to say he had only seized $45,600. Those were found in his office.
Authorities took him to Pulaski County jail due to him being in Federal court on Wednesday. He was released after he surrendered his passport and signed conditions that included staying away from the sheriff’s office and/or Arkansas State Police HQ.
While this answers most questions the public had about the mysterious arrest, one question the public and investigators both will be considering is how much was stolen before he was caught?
A press release was issued late Thursday afternoon from the US Attorney’s office.
LITTLE ROCK— A Greene County Sheriff’s Lieutenant has been charged with stealing government funds related to a ruse money seizure in Paragould.
Cody Hiland, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today the return of an indictment charging Allen Scott Pillow, 55, of Paragould, with theft of government property, specifically $30,400 of FBI funds. A federal grand jury returned the indictment Wednesday night.
Pillow was arrested on a federal complaint on Tuesday, and was initially arraigned and then released by United States Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris on Wednesday. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson, who has set arraignment on the indictment for November 14, 2019 at 2 p.m.
According to the complaint, on Monday the FBI conducted a ruse narcotics investigation which led to the seizure of FBI funds by Pillow, who is in a leadership position within the narcotics unit of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. As part of the ruse, agents left a backpack containing $76,000 in FBI funds in a vehicle left in a Lowe’s parking lot. Believing that he was assisting out-of-state police officers, Pillow arrived in the parking lot and seized the backpack. Pillow told the out-of-state officers that he located $45,600 in the backpack, and later Pillow checked $45,600 into evidence. According to the complaint, on Tuesday, while executing a search warrant, officers located money from the missing $30,400 in Pillow’s pants’ pocket, at which time Pillow was arrested.
The statutory penalty for theft of government property is not more than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than three years of supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Arkansas State Police, and the case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin O’Leary.
A complaint and indictment only contain allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is available online at http://www.justice.gov/edar