Ex-cop receives prison sentence

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Daily Dunklin Democrat

KENNETT, Mo. -- A former Arbyrd city marshal has pleaded guilty to tampering and stealing charges.

Lawrence "Larry" Underwood appeared in Dunklin County Circuit Court Wednesday and entered pleaded guilty to felony tampering with evidence and stealing by deceit. He was sentenced by Judge Stephen Sharp to four years in prison on the tampering charge and two years on the stealing charge.

Underwood was the city marshal in Arbyrd when he was accused of asking someone to get methamphetamine and hide it under the driver's seat of an automobile owned by Benjamin McElhaney.

When that was done, Underwood made a traffic stop June 28, searched the car and arrested McElhaney.

The person allegedly solicited by Underwood had contacted the Missouri State Highway Patrol, prompting a sting operation, Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Sokoloff said. The purported meth was actually an imitation provided by the highway patrol. A patrol officer was with McElhaney when he was stopped by Underwood.

Sokoloff said the stealing by deceit charge resulted from Underwood receiving unemployment benefits while he was employed. This was discovered while authorities were investigating Underwood for planting the drugs.

Underwood is a native of Marquand, Mo. He received his law enforcement training at the academy at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

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