Guilty of Extortion, Obtaining Stolen ATV and Firearms
LITTLE ROCK, AR (STL.News) – A former volunteer Sheriff’s Deputy with the Arkansas County Sheriff’s Office has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for extorting confidential informants to steal an ATV and firearms. Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, announced today’s sentence.
Charles David Chastain, 48, of Stuttgart, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Leon Holmes. Chastain was employed as a volunteer Auxiliary Sheriff’s Deputy for the Arkansas County Sheriff’s Office. He was assigned to the Tri-County Drug Task Force, where he utilized confidential informants to develop drug cases in Arkansas County and surrounding areas.
“Law enforcement officers and their families make sacrifices every day to protect and serve our communities. Unfortunately, when an officer is found to have abused their position, the trust and respect that law enforcement works so hard to maintain is undermined. A violation of that sacred public trust will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Hiland. “Today’s sentence is a reflection of the fundamental principle that no one is above the law, and an officer who abuses his position will be held accountable.”
A federal jury convicted Chastain in February of Hobbs Act extortion, attempted Hobbs Act extortion, and receipt of a firearm with intent to commit a felony. Testimony during the trial established that two confidential informants worked for Chastain in an effort to reduce criminal charges. In the fall of 2017, Chastain asked those informants to steal an ATV for him. One of the informants went to a duck hunting club in Clarendon and stole a Browning Edition, Polaris Ranger 900 ATV valued at just under $25,000. The informant stole the ATV in exchange for favorable treatment from Chastain concerning criminal charges, but the informant also reported the theft to the FBI. Testimony indicated that both informants were concerned Chastain would refuse to give them credit for their cooperation if they did not meet his demands.
Trial testimony also indicated that in December of 2017, Chastain asked one of the informants to commit another burglary, this time with the goal of stealing firearms from a storage unit in Arkansas County. Text messages admitted at trial showed that the informant asked if there were cameras at the storage unit, and Chastain replied, “Long sleeve shirts and a mask would make it a moot point.” The informant did not commit that burglary, and instead worked with the FBI and the Arkansas State Police to obtain three firearms to offer for sale to Chastain.
Evidence at trial showed that the informant told Chastain the firearms were stolen and included a Chinese Type 56-1, which is similar to an AK-47 rifle, a Colt M16 A1, and a Winchester M14. Chastain agreed to buy the purportedly stolen firearms from the informant for $300. He was arrested shortly thereafter with those rifles in his possession. Investigators later executed a search warrant at Chastain’s shop, where they located the stolen Polaris Ranger.
In addition to 30 months in prison, Judge Holmes sentenced Chastain to one year of supervised release following his term of imprisonment. The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Arkansas State Police.