Three of the four people accused in the alleged marijuana-related bribery of two former Vernon County correctional officers were arraigned Tuesday morning in the 28th Circuit Court.
Associate Circuit Judge Neal Quitno arraigned ex-jailers Colby Prough, 39, of El Dorado Springs, and 23-year-old James Michael Tumm of Nevada, who are charged with the Class C felony of concealing prohibited articles (marijuana) on the jail premises.
Bob True Beisly III, the plot's alleged mastermind, is not scheduled to be arraigned, or apprised of the charges against him, until Oct. 15.
Quitno set a 9 a.m., Oct. 11, court appearance for Prough, who is seeking the appointment of a public defender, and a 9 a.m., Nov. 8, pre-hearing conference for Tumm, who has been represented by Nevada attorney Kendall Vickers since being released on a $10,000 cash-only bond.
"Mr. Prough, in light of the $10,000 cash bond you posted, the public defender's office has denied your application," Quitno said.
Persisting in his appeal for free legal help, however, Prough was asked to return Oct. 11 with another application.
The woman who had until Tuesday been something of a mystery, 28-year-old Joanna Roberts of Deerfield, answered the judge's call to the bar for her arraignment on similar charges.
Represented by Nevada attorney Brandon Fisher, the petite blonde was told to attend her pre-hearing conference at 9 a.m., Oct. 25. Fisher is also representing Beisly.
Variable at the judge's discretion, a Class C felony in Missouri is punishable by up to a year in county jail or two to seven years in state prison, according to references.
Described by sheriff's investigators as Beisly's girlfriend, Roberts' whereabouts were unknown when Prough, Tumm and the 38-year-old Beisly were arrested Sept. 17. The public's help was sought in her apprehension.
When the marijuana-smuggling case emerged, Beisly was being held in lieu of a $100,000 cash-only bond on charges of violating probation and resisting arrest by creating a substantial risk of serious injury or death during a July 4 high speed chase involving a Bates County sheriff's deputy, two Rich Hill policemen and a Vernon County deputy.
Beisly and two other men were pursued that day in a black pickup because he was wanted in Vernon County for felony assault in a case in which he allegedly drove a tractor over a car occupied by a man and a juvenile, according to a news release by the local sheriff's office. He has a prior conviction for unlawful use of a firearm as a felon.
Vernon County Chief Deputy Shayne Simmons said in a supplemental report to the probable cause affidavit for Prough's and Tumm's arrests that on Sept. 13 Tumm "admitted to taking $1,000 in cash from Joanna Roberts, who is Bob Beisly's girlfriend, Sept. 10 in the Sutherlands parking lot in Nevada.
"Tumm stated it was a wedding gift from Beisly," Simmons wrote. "He also admitted he was working the night of Sept. 8 with Jailer Prough, who Tumm knew had received an envelope from Roberts in the parking lot of the Vernon County Sheriff's Office and that it was delivered to Beisly by Prough that night.
"On the evening of Sept. 12, Roberts admitted to me over the phone that she paid two Vernon County jailers monies on the request of her boyfriend, Bobby Beisly III, an inmate at the jail. Roberts admitted she drove to the jail parking lot on the night of Sept. 8, met a jailer named Colby and gave him a check made out for $1,500 and an envelope containing a small amount of marijuana, bank letter, picture and a lighter for Colby to deliver to Beisly."
In a Sept. 12 meeting with Sheriff Ron Peckman, Simmons reported, Beisly said "he had paid a bribe to two jailers to smuggle him marijuana, James Tumm and Colby Prough."
The investigator said Roberts came to his office Sept. 13 "and stated it was a small amount of marijuana, two joints' worth, maybe, inside a clear cigarette wrapper she had placed inside the envelope."