Deputy Will Be Prosecuted, But Not Fired, Officials Say

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While the Gila County Attorney's Office has yet to file charges against a sheriff's deputy facing a DUI charge, his superiors have already decided he won't be terminated.

In the meantime, Deputy Rodney Cronk remains on administrative leave with pay as a result of his Oct. 31 motorcycle accident.

According to the investigating Department of Public Safety officer, Cronk was off duty that night and was driving his motorcycle east on Highway 260 just past Star Valley. He drove onto the shoulder, the officer said, and when Cronk tried to get back on the road, lost control of his bike.

Believing that alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, the investigating officer obtained consent for a blood sample from the deputy. Weeks later, the blood-test confirmed the officer's suspicion -- Cronk's blood-alcohol content was 0.210 --more than twice the legal limit for intoxication.

"The internal investigation has been completed, and it's sitting on my desk," said Chief Deputy Byron Mills. He said the county will wait until the criminal aspect of the case has been settled before determining what personnel action to take regarding Cronk.

Mills said Cronk has had a respectable two-year employment record with the county.

"I can tell you this," he said, "we don't intend on terminating him. We're going to try and find him some help, but we're also going to send a message that this kind of thing won't be tolerated."

As for the criminal case, Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose said the matter is being reviewed by Deputy County Attorney David Savel, head of the misdemeanor unit.

"We are going to prosecute it," DeRose said. "I don't know if it's been charged yet, but it will be charged. After that, Cronk will make an appearance down here before the judge, and will make his plea. If he pleads not guilty, it will be set for trial."

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