Deputy in Carter County firearms case free on bond

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A former Carter County deputy is free on bond after making her first appearance in federal court Tuesday on charges accusing her of illegally possessing and selling firearms, some of which were taken from the department's evidence locker.

Steffanie Marie Kearbey, 23, of Ellsinore, Mo., turned herself in Tuesday morning to the U.S. Marshals Service in Cape Girardeau, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Kearbey, along with former Carter County sheriff Tommy Adams, were indicted last week by a federal grand jury, which handed down a seven-count indictment.

Indicted on two counts of possession of stolen firearms, one count of sale of a stolen firearm and one count of being an unlawful user of controlled substances in possession of firearms,

Kearbey subsequently made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lewis Blanton, the spokesman said.

During the appearance, the spokesman said, Blanton also arraigned Kearbey, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, and ordered she appear at 10 a.m. Sept. 14 for a pretrial motions hearing.

Blanton set Kearbey's bond at $10,000 secured, and she was released on bond, according to a clerk with the U.S. District Court.

Adams reportedly was supposed to turn himself in Wednesday morning to federal authorities.

A 31-year-old resident of Ellsinore, Adams faces three felonies of possession of stolen firearms, sale of a stolen firearm and being an unlawful user of controlled substances in possession of firearms.

If convicted, Adams and Kearbey face a maximum term of 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count, followed by a maximum three-year term of supervised release.

The former officers both were arrested in April as part of an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol into suspected illegal activities involving Adams, who resigned as sheriff on the day of his arrest.

Kearbey, according to earlier reports, allegedly sold a weapon to a confidential informant on April 2, the same day of her arrest by the highway patrol.

One count of Kearbey's indictment stems from her allegedly selling that stolen firearm, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol, "knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the firearm was stolen."

During an earlier interview with patrol investigators, Kearbey reported the gun had been stolen from the Carter County Sheriff's Department evidence room.

Adams, she told officers, had brought that gun and several others to her house sometime between July 2010 and September.

Kearbey, who is no longer with the department, initially was charged with the felonies of receiving stolen property and second-degree burglary; however, Carter County Prosecuting Attorney Rocky Kingree dropped those charges in July.

Kearbey had been accused of possessing a gun allegedly taken from the department's evidence room by Adams and burglarizing an Ellsinore home allegedly at the request of Adams.

In addition to his federal charges, Adams also faces charges in Carter County.

Adams is charged with two felonies of distribution of a controlled substance (methamphetamine and cocaine) and the felony of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute (methamphetamine).

He is accused of distributing meth and cocaine to a confidential informant and possessing five bags of a white powder substance, which field tested positive as methamphetamine and were found in his personal truck.

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