LINCOLN, Ark. (KFSM) — Former Lincoln Police Chief Brian Key pleaded not guilty Wednesday, Dec. 26, to felony charges of tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia, both Class D felonies, according to court documents.
Key, 41, was arrested on Thursday, Dec. 13 for drug-related offenses.
Arkansas State Police began investigating Key in September after reports surfaced that he was soliciting residents for their medicine under the guise of depositing it into the department's drug take-back box. Officers within the department had also expressed concerns about missing evidence.
Surveillance video showed Key removing what looked like prescription pills and a pipe from two officers' evidence lockers. An investigation into Key later found used syringes, a glass pipe and a baggie with residue in his police-issued vehicle.
The 15-year veteran was fired from the Lincoln Police Department in October. Lincoln Mayor Rob Hulse hired Kenneth Albright to be the new police chief in November.
Prosecutor Matt Durrett has requested an independent party or agency to review Key's case because of the “working relationship between this office (Washington County Circuit Court) and the Lincoln Police Department, as well as a previous working relationship with the defendant.”
Key was released on a $1,500 bond. In Arkansas, Class D felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.