Missing tax money brought up again during county meeting
by By Bailey Richards
HAZARD— The Perry County Fiscal Court met on Tuesday to approve the county clerk’s budget, the purchase of a new excavator and closing a road to the public. Several unscheduled issues also arose during the meeting, including $573,000 in tax money still missing from the sheriff’s office.
Lost Creek resident Lloyd Engle asked the court and Chief Deputy Tony Eversole what had been done regarding $573,000 that had been stolen from the sheriff’s office over several years during a previous administration.
State Auditor Crit Luallen released a state audit in June 2008 which noted more than $573,000 had been found to be missing over a several year period from the tax accounts of the Perry County Sheriff’s Office. To this date, no arrests have been made and none of the money has been recovered.
The case was originally forwarded to the FBI, but is now being investigated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, while local officials are hoping to recover the money through a bonding company.
Engle’s concern was that the sheriff’s office and the Perry County Fiscal Court had not sent in all of the necessary paperwork before the statute of limitation had run out in the case.
Eversole said that both the fiscal court and the sheriff’s office had turned in their paperwork several years ago, well before the time ran out.
“Basically what happened is that the FBI didn’t do anything with it, so I called and asked them what’s next,” said Eversole. “The federal law does have a statute of limitation on certain crimes.”
Since the statute for this crime was fast approaching, the sheriff’s office had a meeting with the FBI and the county attorney, John C. Shackleford, and decided to have the Attorney General’s Office take over.
“They are supposed to pick up the case and do something with it,” said Eversole.
“I am not going to sit here as county judge and let that money get swept under the rug,” added Perry County Judge Executive Denny Ray Noble. “That is tax payer’s money that needs to be collected.”
The court decided to make calls and see about getting the money from the insurance company, and find out what was holding up both getting the bond money and the investigation.
The fiscal court also approved the purchase of a new excavator from Caterpillar. The county is one of the very few counties that still dig graves for those who put in a request. The excavator is used for digging graves as well as for helping with road projects and clearing brush.
In other business, Cynthia Cole, founder of Pathfinders of Perry County, asked the court for help with building a bridge that would connect the parking lot by the basketball courts on Main Street in Hazard and the International Peace Garden. The bridge would hopefully then be connected to a walking and biking path around downtown Hazard that the Pathfinders are looking to eventually build.
Cole said Home Lumber Company has agreed to donate some of the supplies, design the bridge and offer a discount for the remaining supplies, but Pathfinders doesn’t have the funds to complete the project.
Noble noted that due to the fact that the bridge was on city property and would not be added to the county road plan, that the county could not help with the project. It was suggested that the Perry County tourism board may be able to help.
The fiscal court also approved the closure of a county road in the Willard community. Bazaar Branch Road goes to one home and two cemeteries. The home owner requested that the road be removed from the county road plan due to people going into the cemeteries and partying near their home.
ICG/Arch Minerals made a request to move several bodies from an abandoned cemetery near the Breathitt County line in the Beaver Dam area. The company just filed for the first of two approvals they must get from the fiscal court.
The company knows of two bodies in the cemetery but there could be up to four. The next of kin of the deceased have been notified and have approved having the bodies moved to another cemetery.
The budget for the Perry County Clerk’s Office was also reviewed and approved during the meeting.
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