Bollinger County sheriff candidate has DWI record, unpaid debts

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Ryan McLeary

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.

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

In a June 11 interview, McLeary said his record makes him a better candidate 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 Bullard's narrative, he saw McLeary's vehicle traveling faster than the posted speed limit. 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 blood alcohol level was 0.151 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 was released to his parents. According to Bullard, the male minor stated 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 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 his criminal record inhibits his ability to enforce the law.

He said he no longer drinks alcohol.

In addition to his DWI charge, McLeary was charged with unlawfully taking wildlife Oct. 5, 1998, 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.

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.

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.

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

The Division of Employment Security of Missouri filed an order of assessment of overpaid benefits against McLeary in April 2007. Judgment was made in Bollinger County court that McLeary owed $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.

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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