TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

November 17, 2011

Agents search Hodge’s mother’s home for cash


Times-Tribune

Nov. 17, 2011.pdf

Sept. 14, ATF Affidavit

By Becky Killian / Managing Editor

Former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge’s mother’s home was searched by federal agents after they received a tip he may have stored cash in a safe there, according to a partially redacted affidavit filed Sept. 15 in London’s U.S. District Court by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Todd E. Tremaine.

The tip came from a cellmate who bunked with Lawrence Hodge, 52, for about a week.

The cellmate told Tremaine that Lawrence Hodge was spending about $400 a week at the Grayson County Detention Center commissary on food and cigarettes, the affidavit indicates. Lawrence Hodge reportedly told his cellmate that he had money hidden in his mother’s, Ruth F. Hodge’s, safe. The cellmate assumed the safe was at Ruth Hodge’s home.   

The cellmate told Tremaine that Lawrence Hodge estimated he had enough money to support his commissary expenses for the duration of his 15 and a half year sentence.

The cellmate assumed the stashed money was being sent to Lawrence Hodge by one of his sons, the affidavit states. The cellmate told Tremaine he once overheard a telephone conversation during which Lawrence Hodge asked his son if he had sent a money order.

Lawrence Hodge also talked to his cellmate about the Dec. 2009 staged burglary at his sheriff’s office during which guns were reportedly taken that were the subject of an open records request by the Times-Tribune.

Although Lawrence Hodge told his cellmate he had asked Doyle “Stanboy” Fritts to commit the burglary, Fritts recruited Pete Lawson and another man to burglarize the office, the affidavit indicates.  

Tremaine stated in the affidavit that the information on Fritts and Lawson corroborated with what Lawrence Hodge had admitted to Tremaine about the burglary.

When asked by Tremaine, Lawrence Hodge denied that he had $10,000 or more in stored cash.

On Sept. 15, Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Danielle Barto confirmed with Grayson County Detention Center personnel that Lawrence Hodge was spending about $600 monthly from his commissary account. She was also told that the cash in Lawrence Hodge’s account was being deposited with money orders from his mother, his brother, James Hodge, his son, Basil R. Hodge, as well as Taylor Landscaping.

Tremaine indicated Taylor Landscaping is owned by Lawrence Hodge’s friend, Larry Taylor. Taylor was the one who ultimately got the guns reported stolen from the Whitley Sheriff’s Office in 2009, the affidavit states.

A search warrant was issued based on the affidavit and agents searched Ruth Hodge’s home and two outbuildings, according to George Huffman, public information officer for the ATF. Nothing was taken during the search.

In May, Lawrence Hodge pleaded guilty to money laundering, extortion and drug distribution.

When he was sentenced Sept. 28 in London’s U.S. District Court, Lawrence Hodge was ordered to pay restitution of $64,897 and also make a $50,000 forfeiture.

The order allows Hodge to make $25 payments quarterly or, if he works in the prison, the minimum would be $60 per quarter.

The Sept. 15 affidavit indicates no payments have been made.

State audits of Lawrence Hodge’s sheriff’s office have found a deficit of more than $240,000.

The audits and federal affidavits indicate Hodge and two of his former office workers stole money from property tax payments as well as a fund designated for drug purchases and to pay informants.

A state case against Lawrence Hodge in which he faces 21 charges of abuse of public trust and evidence tampering continues.