Sheriff George Silver III has pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge that he had a county jail inmate fix cars and do electrical work for him.
“We view it as little more than political mudslinging,” said Silver’s attorney, Keith Roark.
He said the charge stems from political rivalries within the Jerome County Sheriff’s Department.
Silver was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning.
Late last week, however, Roark filed a court document on behalf of Silver saying he is innocent.
Roark said a disgruntled department employee is to blame for a state investigation into Silver.
He declined to say who the employee is.
Roark called the misdemeanor charge a last-ditch effort by investigators to pin a crime on Silver because their investigation into allegations of bribery was unsuccessful.
Last week, Deputy Attorney General Scott James filed a misdemeanor charge of “accepting a gift while a public servant by person subject to his jurisdiction.”
Silver said late last year, inmate James Caswell repaired a car owned by the sheriff’s son, did some electrical work on a building owned by a friend of the sheriff and occasionally washed cars belonging to other courthouse employees.
Caswell, a state prison inmate who was being housed in the Jerome County Jail, was the type of man who “literally begs to be kept active at all times” by volunteering to work on projects for the sheriff, Roark said.
A pre-trial conference is planned for Feb. 23.