Madison County Commissioner Phillip Grisham said Thursday that he is innocent of the charges leveled against him, and intends it to be business as usual until the matter is settled.
The 65-year-old Grisham, who is the Precinct 2 commissioner, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on two state jail felony charges — theft by a public servant and abuse of official capacity — and a second misdemeanor abuse charge.
He was released shortly thereafter on an $8,500 bond.
Grisham said the charges stem from a misunderstanding, and is confident that it will be cleared up in court.
“Ever since I started, the county has been using my equipment, and I’ve always paid for everything,” he said. “It just about broke me for paying for equipment the county tore up. I charged the county for a hydraulic pump that had burned up mowing for the county.”
Grisham said he later reimbursed the county for the pump, and has the receipt to show.
According to the affidavit for arrest warrant, in October 2014 Grisham “unlawfully acquired … a pump with a value of $1,500 or more … from Madison County without the effective consent of the owner, namely, by deception, to wit: the defendant acting as a public servant submitted a purchase order to an employee of Madison County for said pump, with intent to deprive the owner of the property.”
The pump came into Grisham’s possession by virtue of his status as a commissioner, the affidavit states.
It also states that he intentionally misused government property by taking the pump, and by using county personnel to remove the broken pump and replace it with the new pump.
The affidavit also claims that Grisham had employees work on his personal vehicle, and use a belly dump truck to haul slag to Grisham’s property, which was to Grisham’s benefit.
A Madison County grand jury indicted Grisham and approved the arrest warrant on June 7.
“In 2014, I had all my crew except one picking up limbs after a storm,” Grisham said. “I put (one of the crew) on my personal tractor to mow county roads. He breaks a hydraulic line on the mower, and the wing won’t pick up, and it’s blowing out fluid. The PTO clutches and the hydraulic pump got burned up.”
He said the charges stem from the initial purchase of the pump.
“I always bring back something I borrowed better than I got it,” Grisham said. “I haven’t done anything wrong, but they say I have, so we’ll settle it out in court.
“In the meantime, it will be business as usual,” he said. “I’m innocent until proven guilty.”
County Judge C.E. McDaniel Jr. said Wednesday evening he didn't know the details of what happened, but was aware of the charges.
He refused any further comment until more information becomes available.