Incoming Stoddard County prosecutor considering charges against Dickerson

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Weaver Dickerson

DEXTER, Mo. -- Russ Oliver has a lot of questions about the Weaver Dickerson case. And after he takes over as Stoddard County's next prosecuting attorney Saturday, he intends to get some answers.

"Nobody else is looking into this, and I'm going to," Oliver said.

In fact, the newly elected Republican prosecutor said Tuesday he intends to conduct a sweeping investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dickerson's application for $2 million in state aid for a proposed downtown Cape Girardeau vision and dental health care center.

Oliver said he will present his findings at news conferences in Cape Girardeau and Dexter, both tentatively scheduled for Jan. 12. The conferences will be held one week before Dickerson's Jan. 19 probation revocation hearing in Stoddard County before Judge Stephen Sharp.

Oliver, who defeated Democratic incumbent Briney Welborn in November, will have the matter dropped into his lap when he assumes office Saturday. He said he has taken a cursory look at the case files and he has "several serious concerns" and has noticed some "red flags" that raise questions for him.

"I don't know where the document was signed, and I don't know if Stoddard County has jurisdiction," Oliver said. "It's something I'm going to be investigating, and I'm going to look further into it. If it encompasses other folks than Mr. Dickerson, we'll be looking at that, too."

Oliver is overseeing the investigation because Dickerson's probation originated in Stoddard County, where Dickerson wrote more than $90,000 in bad checks in 2007. Dickerson, who is CEO of Hometown Holdings Group and a Paducah, Ky., native, served nearly a month in jail in Stoddard County and in Kentucky, where he also pleaded guilty to theft by deceit for writing a $27,000 bad check.

Dickerson has since made restitution for all of the bad checks in question.

Welborn filed a motion last week to set the probation revocation hearing, which Oliver said he would have done as well, had his predecessor not done so. The motion alleges new charges of making a false declaration and making a false affidavit. Oliver said he is also looking at additional charges, including forgery, which is also generally applied to making a fake document with the intent to commit fraud.

Forgery is a class C felony, which carries a possible sentence of up to seven years in prison and could include a fine of up to $5,000. Oliver would also not rule out a perjury charge.

Oliver's investigation will also focus on what happened in the days after the news broke that Dickerson was on probation, which caused the state Department of Economic Development to withdraw its authorization of the $2.05 million. Oliver said Weaver held discussions with DED officials as well as city leaders after it was learned publicly that he was on probation.

"Why were those meetings held?" Oliver said. "What was said? I'd like to know. I have serious concerns, and it seems there are a lot of red flags. That's why I'm going to look into it further. I really just want to know what was going on."

If he discovers the document was signed outside his jurisdiction, Oliver said he will refer the matter to the appropriate county prosecutor.

Locally, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said he was not investigating the matter yet.

Gov. Jay Nixon came to Cape Girardeau on Dec. 8 to announce the new dental and vision cooperative and the state funds. He has since come under fire from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican. Nixon's office declined to comment Tuesday and calls to the Department of Economic Development went unreturned. A company spokeswoman for Watch Me Smile, the dental and vision co-op, said Dickerson is unavailable for comment until at least next week.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

403 South Prairie St., Bloomfield, MO

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