JONESBORO, Ark. – Despite the letter being dated January 9, and even though he was under investigation, no one ever told the prosecutor or the sheriff about Egypt’s police chief being decertified until February 12, according to both.
The Craighead County Sheriff’s Office investigators had an open case into Egypt Police Chief Gerald Goza and had even communicated with the Division of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) about his qualifications as late as January 8. Despite this, they were left in the dark about the January 9 results of an audit that disqualified Goza from being in law enforcement. Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said once investigators learned of the letter this week, it “changed everything.”
“We received the CLEST letter after [Stephen] Warren told us they had a copy of it,” Boyd said. “We then requested a copy and received it later in the day. ”
The previous investigation was ended when investigators said Goza had no intent to defraud, leading the deputy prosecutor to decide not to file charges. However, Boyd said new information this week resulted in the case being reopened.
We verified the incident report does not have any mention of the CLEST decertification letter present until February 12, 2020. Although the investigative file contains hundreds of pages, it also does not appear to contain any mention of the CLEST letter’s results before then, either. The first mention is when Stephen’s wife, Melinda, spoke with investigators on Feb. 12. It was during this conversation the investigator first noted the existence of the CLEST letter. In the same conversation, Melinda reported seeing Gerald Goza out pulling people over and driving the Egypt police car around town, with it parked at his residence. The deputy said the department would check into this and alert the prosecutor.
Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said he also had never seen the letter or been made aware of its existence until contacted by NEA Report. Within hours of being notified, at 8:30 AM the next morning, Ellington ordered all tickets and cases by Egypt to be dropped.
Warren said to his knowledge, neither entity was ever aware of the letter’s existence before this week.
The sheriff doesn’t think it was an intentional mistake by CLEST. He said they normally only send results of audits to the department or city itself. In this case, Mayor Jerry Cook and Goza are the only recipients of the letter. The mayor never told anyone until this week.
Goza remains under investigation Friday afternoon.