By Christina Huynh
Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington pleaded guilty to charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest on Monday in Saline County District Court.
“I have tarnished my public image, as well as that of the office to which the voters of Saline County have elected me for three terms,” Pennington said after his court hearing. “I have embarrassed my family and friends. I am sincerely sorry for these events.”
Pennington will have to pay $3,290 in fines by Friday for both charges and serve one year of probation, Judge Alice Lightle said.
On June 29, Benton police arrested Pennington at Denton’s Trotline, a local bar and grill, after a caller reported a drunk man getting into his vehicle. Pennington also was accused of trying to take a “drunken swing” and pushing an officer that night.
“I reviewed the video [of Pennington that night] and I was embarrassed at what I saw,” prosecuting attorney Cody Hiland said.
Pennington did not indicate whether he would continue his role as county sheriff. If any of the charges had been a felony, Pennington could have been removed from office for an infamous crime, Hiland said.
Hiland added that he was confident moving forward with the case against Pennington and said Pennington’s actions were an embarrassment to state law enforcement.
Pennington previously was charged with refusal to submit to arrest, a Class B misdemeanor, but Hiland upgraded the charge to resisting arrest — a Class A misdemeanor — on Aug. 24.
Hiland said upgraded the charge because he believed it was important for Pennington to “have some accountability for the drunken swing he took at an officer.”
Pennington said in early August he entered an in-patient treatment facility to address his personal issues, but did not elaborate on what those were.
“During my 40 years in law enforcement I have always tried to uphold the reputation officers must have to earn the respect of the citizens,” Pennington said. “On June 29, and in subsequent days, I have failed our community.”