A former Owen County deputy faces charges of official misconduct and theft for allegedly selling ginseng he confiscated while working a case on that county’s north side.
Joseph R. Hinton turned himself in on the respective felony and misdemeanor charges on Saturday. A Owen Circuit Court warrant was issued for his arrest Friday.
Hinton is accused of selling ginseng he confiscated during a Sept. 11 investigation at a northern Owen County property. There, the property’s owner confronted a man he believed was stealing ginseng.
Hinton was dispatched to the area and located the suspect and seized a “sizeable quantity of ginseng,” all according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources law enforcement division.
The property owner was reportedly told by Hinton that the ginseng would be turned over to Indiana Conservation Officers for investigation, according to the release. About two weeks later, the property owner contacted conservation officers to check the status of the case.
“A lengthy investigation by ICO Detective Trent Stinson revealed Deputy Hinton had not initiated law enforcement action against the suspect, but rather kept the ginseng and later sold it to a certified buyer for $336,” the release continues.
Special Prosecutor Robert Cline of Morgan County has been appointed to handle the case.
Hinton has since posted bond and has been released form jail.