Bollinger County sheriff candidate has DWI record, debts unpaid

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Ryan McLeary, a Bloomfield, Mo., police officer and Republican candidate running for Sheriff of Bollinger County, has unpaid debts and a history of breaking the law, according to Missouri Case.net and documents from the city of Advance, Mo.

Case.net provides access to the Missouri State Courts Automated Case Management System. From there the public is able to inquire on case records including docket entries, parties, judgments and charges in public court. Only courts that have implemented the case management software as part of the Missouri Court Automation Program and only cases that have been deemed public under the Missouri Revised Statutes can be accessed through Case.net.

Other candidates in the Bollinger County Sheriff's race, James Galloway and Leo McElrath, had no offenses listed on Missouri Case.net.

Ryan McLeary

In an interview with The Banner Press June 11, McLeary said his record makes him a better candidate for sheriff because he's "been down both sides of the road."

On Dec. 10, 2000, McLeary was arrested in Advance by patrolman Darren Bullard and charged with driving while intoxicated and supplying alcohol for a minor.

According to the narrative report from Bullard, he observed McLeary's vehicle traveling faster than the posted speed limit and as he pursued the vehicle, it spun out of control and lodged against a tree just off the roadway.

According to a breath analysis report filed by Bullard with the city of Advance, McLeary's alcohol level was. 151 percent at the time of the accident. On the police report, McLeary told police he drank eight beers between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The minor occupant of the vehicle was cited for underage possession of alcohol and released to his parents. According to Bullard, the male minor stated plainly to the officer that he was too drunk to drive, that McLeary had supplied him with alcohol and that he could not say how much McLeary drank while behind the wheel. The officer also noted a partial 30-pack of beer inside the vehicle. McLeary was 22 years old at the time.

McLeary verified he had just recently graduated from the law enforcement academy at Southeast Missouri State University in 2000 when he received his driving while intoxicated and contributing alcohol to a minor charge.

"There's a lot of things I've done in my life I'm not proud of, and I've made mistakes," he said.

He said he believes if a person learns from mistakes, the mistakes don't hurt.

"I know what goes on in this county, especially with the kids under 21 years old and how they drive around and drink," he said. "Growing up that's what we did -- there was nothing else to do in this county but sit around and drink.

"It don't make it right that I used to do that, but it makes me aware of what goes on."

McLeary said he believes a concentration on DWI enforcement would benefit Bollinger County. He said he doesn't believe that his criminal record inhibits his ability to enforce the law.

He said he no longer drinks alcohol.

In addition to his DWI charge, on Oct. 5, 1998, McLeary was charged with unlawfully taking wildlife in Bollinger County. According to the court docket, he was charged specifically with casting rays of an artificial light. McLeary pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $100 by the court. A date of satisfaction of the debt is not listed with the court.

According to McLeary, the law had recently changed.

"They had just changed the law for spotlighting, you used to be able to spot light for wildlife and then they changed that to harassing wildlife," he said.

He said he was looking for a coon dog with a friend and girlfriend. He said a conservation agent from Wayne County cited the group for harassing wildlife even though they told him they were looking for a coon dog.

According to Missouri conservation agent Jeff Scott, there has been no change in the law other than an allowance for farmers to spotlight livestock that occurred about 15 years ago. He said before that time, "friendly spotlighting" to observe wildlife without any weapon or implement to be used to kill wildlife was allowed. Scott said conservation agents hear a number of reasons why individuals spotlight in the evening and they do consider circumstances when writing citations.

McLeary pleaded guilty to a second charge of taking wildlife illegally Sept. 22, 2000, according to Missouri Case.net.

From 1994 to 1996, McLeary had three traffic tickets from Bollinger County on his record, one per year. The traffic tickets included charges of failing to stop at a stop sign, operating a vehicle in a careless manner and operating a vehicle without an operator's license. McLeary said the operating a vehicle without an operator's license was news to him, even though the docket filed on Missouri Case.net lists the charge.

"If it actually is something it would've been expired license as far as tags, its not an operator's license," he said.

In Stoddard County, McLeary received a ticket from the Missouri State Highway Patrol for failing to wear a safety belt according to Missouri Case.net.

Unpaid debts

More recently, the Division of Employment Security of Missouri filed an order of assessment of overpaid benefits against McLeary in April 2007. Judgment was made in the Bollinger County court that McLeary owed a debt of $1,823.75 to the Division of Employment Security.

In 2002, the Bank of Advance in Stoddard County filed suit against McLeary, according to Missouri Case.net. Judgment was found in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant, McLeary, for damages of $2,597.74, plus interest and court fees.

"So I owe people some money," McLeary said.

McLeary said it's not a law enforcement officer's obligation to hold citizens legally accountable for paying debts, even though they cite drivers who are unable to pay for car insurance.

"The state of Missouri requires you to pay for insurance for your vehicle," McLeary said. "The state might require you to pay your bills, but I don't enforce that, that's not a local police officer's job."

Though McLeary told the Banner Press he had paid the debts, according the circuit court docket sheet on Missouri Case.net, the debt has not yet been satisfied.

The Bollinger County Sheriff's Department and county jail are operating on a budget of $568,298 for 2008, according to Diane Holzum, the Bollinger County Clerk. Holzum said one of the responsibilities of the sheriff is to manage the budget for the department and the county jail.

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