, Corbin, KY

March 19, 2012

Bank closes county account containing money from former sheriff Hodge

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — March 19, 2012.pdf

By Becky Killian / Managing Editor

One of three banks being sued by Whitley County Fiscal Court has closed county accounts that contained money from former sheriff Lawrence Hodge’s office.

According to Whitley County Attorney Don Moses, he received a check for about $30,800 from First State Financial this week.

Earlier this month, Moses filed a lawsuit to obtain for the county about $114,000 in accounts at Forcht Bank, First State Financial, and Community Trust Bank.

In January, the Whitley County Fiscal Court authorized Moses to file the lawsuit after Moses gave a report about the accounts he had located using information from the Kentucky State Auditor’s Office.

Moses said the accounts contain some of the prior sheriff’s fee, tax and escrow money. He found four at Forcht Bank, three at First State Financial and six at Community Trust Bank.

Since the sheriff’s administration has changed and those authorized to sign transactions are no longer available to do so, the banks require a court order before they will release the funds.

Moses described the lawsuit as a “friendly” one, since the banks want to cooperate.

There are four accounts at Forcht Bank that total about $40,000. Moses said those accounts contain excess fee money that will go to the county.

There were three accounts at First State Financial, two of which were property taxes that total about $30,800. Moses said Whitley County Treasurer Jeffrey Gray will help determine the proper distribution of that tax money to various entities.

The third First State Financial account contained 1 cent of Hodge’s drug fund money.

There is about $42,416 in property tax and fee account money at Community Trust Bank, Moses said.

In January, Judge/Executive Pat White said the accounts have been audited by the state and there is no reason why the county shouldn’t move to retrieve the money. He also said the state auditor’s office will help the county determine how the money should be disbursed.

Moses said he first became aware of the accounts when he was given a list of the Community Trust Bank accounts by Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell. He said it appeared that bank statements received in the former sheriff’s office had been discarded.

Moses said he expects Hodge will cooperate in the lawsuit and that the accounts remained open since circumstances prevent Hodge from closing them.

Hodge is currently serving a 15 and a half year sentence for money laundering, extortion and drug distribution at Elkton Federal Prison in Ohio. He also faces 21 state charges of abuse of public trust and evidence tampering.