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Little Rock man accused of aggressive panhandling freed from jail, ordered into drug rehab

by John Lynch | April 29, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

A 20-year-old Little Rock man who prosecutors say was aggressively panhandling all over Little Rock for months was released from the Pulaski County jail early last week, one day after a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled that the man's only way out was to go into a drug-rehabilitation program.

Judge Barry Sims set bail at $10,000 for Joshua Michael Puddephatt but ruled that he could be released only to representatives of Renewal Ranch in Faulkner County. Puddephatt's family and attorney Mark Hampton acknowledged that he has a drug problem.

Sims allowed bail only after questioning the program's executive director, James Loy, under oath about the residential treatment facility's operations and having Loy promise to report to the court if Puddephatt is thrown out of the program or quits without permission.

Sims told Puddephatt that he'll be immediately arrested, then held in jail until trial if he leaves the facility without permission.

"I'm putting my faith in you to do well," Sims said.

Sims said he wasn't familiar with Renewal Ranch's services and did not want Puddephatt enrolled in a rehab program he didn't know anything about.

Renewal Ranch, which includes Faulkner County Circuit Judge Troy Braswell on its board of directors, is a "long-term, faith-based" program, Loy told the judge. It includes a six-month program of intensive study, 570 hours of curriculum on "issues that drive addiction," combined with 300 hours of community service work.

Clients spend the first six months in a 31-bed facility, along with a staff of six that lives on the grounds, he said.

Deputy prosecutor Jennings Morgan asked for the $10,000 bail, telling the judge that Puddephatt had been "harassing" people for money across the city, sometimes carrying a gas can and claiming he needed money for gas.

Puddephatt is facing felony charges of breaking or entering and residential burglary in Sims' court. Court records show he's been arrested eight times in the 19 months since he turned 18. He's been arrested four times this year on complaints about begging, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and petty theft.

He and two 19-year-old Little Rock men, Steven Baker and Landon Johnson, are accused of stealing a pistol and binoculars in an October burglary at a Stoney Brook Court home.

Puddephatt had been charged with breaking or entering after a September 2016 arrest, but four months later, prosecutors agreed to drop the charge if he stayed out of trouble for the next year, until December 2017. The prosecution has since resumed in that case because of the October burglary charge.

Court records show that Puddephatt's father and stepfather have both been sent to prison.

Puddephatt, who sometimes goes by Puddephatt-MacKool, is the only son of convicted murderer Michael MacKool. Puddephatt had just turned 7 in November 2004 when Michael MacKool, now 64, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for first-degree murder and theft for getting his fourth wife, Leslie Ballard, to kill her mother in September 2003.

Ballard, now 41, divorced MacKool after she was convicted of capital murder in May 2004 and sentenced to life in prison. She stabbed Janie Ballard more than 70 times in what authorities said was a dispute over money. Ballard admitted stabbing her mother but said she did it only because she feared MacKool would kill both her and her mother if she didn't.

Puddephatt is the son of MacKool's third wife, Tina Puddephatt.

She and MacKool were married for four years but had been together at least nine years when they split up in 2000.

The couple's contentious divorce proceedings included a dispute about MacKool's visitation time with the boy, who was 3 when his parents separated. One of the conditions of their divorce was that MacKool had to pick up the children at the Little Rock Police Department for overnight visits.

Tina Puddephatt, now 48, remarried in 2002 when Joshua Puddephatt was 5. Her husband, Mark Christopher Madison, was sentenced to federal prison for more than four years in June 2011 for mail fraud and wire fraud for his role in a scheme that federal authorities said defrauded investors of more than $1.2 million.

Madison, 44, who had been a broker doing business as Madison Financial Services, had been using investor money to make his mortgage payments and pay country club dues and tax obligations, state regulators said.

Metro on 04/29/2018

Print Headline: LR man freed from jail, ordered into drug rehab

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