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Former Dundy County Sheriff facing charges requests case be moved to Lincoln County

February 7th, 2024

The recalled former Dundy County Sheriff charged with stealing a firearm from the sheriff's office has pleaded not guilty as he requests his case be moved out of Dundy County.


Clinton "CJ" Smith, 42, is charged in Dundy County Court with possessing or receiving a stolen firearm and theft by unlawful taking ($501 to $1,499). Court records say he waived his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Dundy County Court records say Smith motioned to transfer his case from Dundy County to Lincoln County due to the pre-trial publicity and his being recalled as sheriff have prejudiced the jury and deprived him of his ability to have a fair trial in Dundy County.

Voters removed him from office during a special election held Nov. 14. The Dundy County board then voted to name Ryan King as interim sheriff.


According to an affidavit for a search warrant, which was obtained and served on Dec. 8, on Nov. 29, a lieutenant and a sergeant with the Nebraska State Patrol met with King and Dundy County Attorney Arlan Wine to discuss firearms that were missing from the sheriff's office.

The affidavit says an inventory was previously conducted on Aug. 7 due to the evidence room getting moved. All firearms were accounted for at that time.

Upon Smith being recalled from office on Nov. 14, the affidavit says that on Nov. 17, King and a Dundy County Deputy Sergeant began an inventory of the evidence room using a list from the Aug. 7 inventory and discovered four Glock handguns were missing.

The affidavit says the keys to the evidence room were then changed, with only King and the sergeant having keys to it.

On Nov. 20, the affidavit says, King phoned Smith to advise him of the missing firearms, to which Smith reportedly stated he had not been in the evidence room since the Aug. 7 inventory, but that he would check a safe in his garage. The affidavit adds Smith told King he may have taken a Glock 34 home to take to the shooting range and was unsure whether he returned it.

The affidavit says King told Smith he needed to bring any firearms he had back to the sheriff's office by 4 p.m. MDT Nov. 20 or they would be entered as stolen.

The affidavit says Smith phoned King around 2:15 p.m. and told him he did not locate any in one safe and could not access a second safe, but that he would contact a locksmith.

The four reported handguns were then reported as stolen to the National Crime Information Center.

Court records say the search warrant was served on Dec. 8 on Smith's Benkelman home and on his silver 2013 Toyota Tacoma pickup. According to court records, the search located one Glock 34 handgun. No other firearms were located.

Smith's next court date had been set for Thursday, but the Dundy County Court Clerk says a judge has canceled that hearing. Court records do not list Smith's next court date.


Former Dundy County Sheriff facing charges requests case be moved to Lincoln County | KHGI

KHGI Nebraska TV is the ABC affiliate station for Central and South-western Nebraska, providing news, weather, sports and local event coverage to residents throughout the area including: Kearney, Grand Island, Hastings, North Platte, Lexington, Holdrege, McCook, York, Alda, Aurora and Broken Bow.
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