A Saline County judge imposed the maximum possible punishment after finding John Malone, of Conway, guilty of violating the conditions of his suspended sentence and missing court.
In 2012, Malone, now 63, pled guilty to eight counts of theft of property. He was ordered to serve 30 years in prison and pay restitution of almost $35,000. He also received a suspended sentence. Despite the 30 year sentence, Malone was paroled in 2017.
In 2011, Malone worked as a contractor in Saline County. Local law enforcement agencies began receiving complaints that he took money from elderly or retired individuals for roofing work and supplies that he neither performed nor provided. An investigation revealed that Malone had a history of theft convictions beginning in 1990 in Texas.
In 2022, Prosecuting Attorney Chris Walton’s office learned that Malone had been arrested in Pulaski County for two counts of theft. The facts were almost identical to the Saline County case. Walton asked Judge Brent Houston to reopen Malone’s case. Malone entered a guilty plea to the Pulaski County case and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a suspended sentence last week.
At the hearing Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Benton, deputy prosecuting attorney Brian Clary presented evidence of the Pulaski County conviction, the limited restitution payments from the 2012 case, and testimony that Malone missed a court date in December 2023.
Malone took the stand and testified that he couldn’t afford to pay the $35,000 restitution because he worked odd jobs and had been returned to prison in Texas for a time. Malone admitted that he was capable of working and that he had been convicted of two drunk driving charges. When asked if he purchased alcohol instead of paying restitution, Malone admitted that he bought the alcohol.
After learning that Malone had over 20 convictions for theft, Judge Houston stated that Malone had no credibility with the Court. Judge Houston then heard from three additional victims that live in Faulkner County. Each of them were approached by Malone offering to make roof repairs from August to December 2023. Each of them paid him money without receiving the repairs or materials. The victims testified that they were embarrassed or afraid for their families to find out how they had been tricked.
After the testimony, Judge Houston imposed the full sentence and ordered that it be served after Malone completed his sentence in Pulaski County. Prosecuting Attorney Chris Walton commented that had Malone been kept in prison from the original Saline County conviction, these other individuals would not have been victimized by Malone. According to Walton, even with the 45 year sentence and it starting after the Pulaski County sentence, it is likely that Malone will be eligible for parole in 9 years.
“I am thankful that Governor Sanders, Attorney General Tim Griffin, and our local legislators are working to correct our parole problem. Repeat offenders, even nonviolent ones like Malone, who prey on the elderly, who commit crimes while they are under parole supervision, while they have pending court cases, should be in prison. At least we know where Malone will be for the next several years. Maybe he can help repair a prison roof.”