TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Homepage

November 1, 2013

Hodge pleads guilty

Former Whitley sheriff sentenced to 17 years for state charges

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

“Guilty.”

That word was uttered 21 times by former Whitley County sheriff Lawrence Hodge during a hearing Thursday in which Hodge was slated to enter a plea.

Hodge faced a 21-count indictment charging multiple counts of abuse of public trust and tampering with evidence, and was scheduled for a jury trial Tuesday.

However, that trial was cancelled for Thursday’s hearing in Whitley County Circuit Court.

Already serving a federal sentence, shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, Hodge emerged from the holding area, handcuffed, shackled and chained at the waist.

He joined his attorneys, William G. Crabtree and Jason Williams, and sat at the defense table.

Moments later, Hodge, Crabtree and Williams were asked to stand at the podium, so the plea agreement hearing could begin.

Judge David A. Tapp, of Pulaski County, who was assigned as a special judge in this case earlier this year, started Thursday afternoon’s hearing by reading Hodge’s 21-count indictment against him.

All his charges are considered class C and D felonies, according to Tapp.

Tapp then read the plea agreement — and what sentence was imposed for each count and the dollar amount of restitution for each count.

Tapp then asked Hodge if he agreed with the counts listed on the indictment.

Hodge offered a quiet “yes.”

Tapp reviewed the various parameters of the plea agreement, then asked Hodge to give the court a general description of the activities leading to the charges.

“What were you up to, Mr. Hodge?” Tapp asked.

Several moments of silence ensued, and Hodge and Crabtree whispered to each other during that time.

“What’s going on here, Mr. Crabtree?” Tapp asked. “Mr. Hodge took an oath to tell the truth.”

The judge added he wanted “to make absolutely sure” that Hodge “definitely had no intention to renunciate” the agreement.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen C. Trimble then stood at the prosecution’s table, and told Tapp he could offer the requested general description.

Trimble then explained that the first eight counts on the indictment involve a “drug and alcohol” account.

He explained that from 2003-2010, when the account was maintained by the sheriff’s office, there “was a considerable amount of money in it.”

Trimble said that those monies were intended for law enforcement to assist in investigating undercover drug operations — the cash would be used for confidential informants and for cash to make undercover drug buys.

Meanwhile, according to Trimble, the Kentucky state auditor’s office audited the account.

“During this period, checks were written to Mr. Hodge (for) drug buys and CI (confidential informant) fees,” Trimble said. “(But) no cases were presented to the grand jury.”

The next four counts, 9 through 12, according to Trimble, were connected to a fee account for the sheriff’s office from 2005-2008.

Money was listed as missing from that account, according to the Commonwealth’s attorney.

Trimble also told the court he was prepared to enter into evidence that those missing monies were “misused or used inappropriately” through Hodge’s office.

The next five counts on the indictment involve a search warrant conducted on the residence of Rick Benson — where several firearms were seized.

“Those guns (were) sold to local people all outside and (from) an illegal standpoint,” Trimble said.

The final count on the indictment involves a case where a county constable seized a certain amount of cash and drugs from a suspect, he said. “(That cash and drugs were) not logged into evidence inventory and disappeared,” Trimble said.

Once that general description was offered, Tapp then read the agreement, and asked Hodge count-by-count if he was guilty of the crimes listed.

Based on the plea agreement, Tapp formally sentenced the former sheriff to 17 years to be served concurrently with his federal sentence.

Hodge was sentenced to federal prison for 15 and a half years in September 2011 in U.S. District Court in London on three separate crimes — conspiring to obstruct, delay and affect…commerce…by extortion, using controlled substances without proper prescriptions, and conspiring with a former sheriff’s office employee who did bookkeeping.

He serves his sentence for these federal convictions at the Elkton Federal Prison in Ohio.

Hodge will also remain on probation until his total restitution of $335,188 is paid in full.

After the hearing, neither Crabtree nor Williams wished to offer any statement.

However, Trimble was pleased the saga was over.

“Well, anytime you have a public official caught up in these (type of) matters, it’s a painful process,” he said. “It’s painful to the community…(and) painful all around to everyone.

“I’m thankful this thing’s over (with a) successful conclusion,” he added. “It’s good to have it over and behind us.”

He also explained that evidence existed for each of the 21 counts and that during the hearing, Tapp wanted “to make sure” that what the Commonwealth was alleging had a factual basis.

And the Commonwealth did. “We had a strong factual basis for each of the counts,” Trimble said.

“The public will not tolerate people who don’t live up to the standards of conduct (expected from a sitting sheriff),” he added. “Not go to the other side and be part of the problem.”

1
Text Only
Homepage
0422 ducks.jpg

After the ducklings were rescued and put in a box, one of those helping out, Daniel Wallen, took them to his farm, where a friendly pond awaited them. Son Dylan and stepdaughter Haley helped put the baby ducks into the water.

  • Lucky Ducklings

    It may not have been as dramatic and heroic as many other rescue stories, but a couple of Corbin firefighters and some local residents went beyond the call of duty Monday afternoon.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Local News
Local Sports
0422 nlhs Olivia Miller.jpg

North Laurel seventh-grader Olivia Miller attempts to throw out a Somerset runner.

  • North No-No

    Mikayla Vires continues to mow down opponents as she recorded a no-hitter during North Laurel’s 10-0 rout of Somerset Tuesday.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Colonels pick up first district win of season

    The Whitley County Colonels picked up their first district win of the season with a 9-2 victory over the visiting Williamsburg Yellow Jackets on Monday.

    April 22, 2014

Editorials
Features
0417 KOA 2.jpg

Corbin KOA is a family affair. Owner Kendra Cooney, hopes to one day leave the care of the campground in the capable hands of her daughters Jenna, 8, at left, and Laura, 9, at right.

  • Kamping Out

    Energy abounding, the girls flitted like fairies, from one spot of interest to another. It was a beautiful sunny day and the girls just wanted to play. However, mom had other ideas.

    April 21, 2014 6 Photos

Letters
Entertainment
  • Floss, Pyatt to perform at Corbin High

    Promising “An Evening of Fun and Entertainment,” humorist, comedian and storyteller Howard Floss will join multi-award winning singer and songwriter Dale Pyatt on stage in Corbin on Saturday, May 17.

    April 16, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
Poll
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook