Kentucky News Now – December 18th 2015
Attorney General-elect Andy Beshear hires staff
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Several officials in former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's administration have new jobs with Beshear's son, incoming Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Thursday, Andy Beshear announced his leadership team before he officially takes office on Jan. 4. Steve Beshear left office last week after two terms.
Former Personnel Secretary Tim Longmeyer, who served under Steve Beshear, will be deputy attorney general. Former Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown will lead the office's criminal division. And former Steve Beshear communications director Terry Sebastian will continue in that same role for Andy Beshear.
Other appointments include Mitchel T. Denham to lead the civil division, Maryellen Buxton Mynear to lead the family division and former Democratic state Rep. Don Pasley to work in the initiatives office.
Paintsville mayor, ex-utilities manager charged with theft
LONDON, Ky. (AP) — A federal grand jury has charged Paintsville Mayor Robert Porter and the former general manager of the public utility commission there with misappropriating property and city resources.
The U.S. attorney's office says a grand jury in London, Kentucky, on Thursday charged Porter and Larry Herald with two counts of theft of government property. Herald was also charged with one count of intentionally making false statements to the FBI.
The indictment accuses Porter, with Herald's help, of not paying for utilities on homes he owned from 2009 until 2012, totaling more than $7,000. Porter is also accused of using city funds to pay personal expenses and using a city vehicle for personal trips.
A message left at City Hall for Porter was not immediately returned. A message left at phone number listed in Herald's name also was not immediately returned.
Kentucky Supreme Court rules in adoption case
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Supreme Court has set aside a couple's conviction in a case delving into accepting living expenses from two sets of prospective adoptive parents.
The case stems from the conditional guilty pleas of Michael and Janie Young to theft by deception over $10,000 in Lawrence County.
The state's high court said Thursday that only one set of prospective adoptive parents was listed as a victim in the indictment, and that they paid less than $10,000 to the Youngs for prenatal and other expenses.
After the child's birth, the Youngs indicated they did not want to proceed with the adoption.
The Youngs argued it was improper to add the amounts paid by both sets of prospective adoptive parents to upgrade the charge.
The case delved into an issue that's drawn little appellate review.
Audit: Questionable spending by 2 ex-Prestonsburg officials
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (AP) — A state audit found wasteful spending and questionable activity by two former Prestonsburg officials.
The audit, released Wednesday, didn't name the officials, but local media report the findings referred to former Mayor Jerry Fannin and former Comptroller Yvette Latta.
Auditors found Fannin had a conflict of interest related to a real estate deal he was involved personally and professionally. Auditor Adam Edelen says it appears the former mayor pocketed $97,000 in grant money from the deal.
Auditors also say Fannin contributed at least $7,800 in city funds to an arena football team he belonged to.
Auditors say Latta was running a tax preparation business on city time with software purchased using city funds.
The audit findings were turned over to the Kentucky State Police, the attorney general and local ethics board.
Fannin denies any wrongdoing.
Man convicted in 1987 murder wants charge dropped, new trial
(Information in the following story is from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com)
NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — A man convicted of murder in 1987 is hoping to take a step toward freedom.
The Kentucky Enquirer reports 63-year-old William "Ricky" Virgil is scheduled for a hearing Friday on a motion to dismiss his murder charge and release him from prison or grant him a new trial based on new DNA evidence.
The Kentucky Innocence Project, which investigates innocence claims and fights for exoneration with new evidence, plans to argue on his behalf.
Program director Linda A. Smith says Virgil should be released and further investigation conducted into the slaying.
In 1987, Virgil was arrested and charged in the killing of 54-year-old Retha Welch. Authorities say she was raped, stabbed repeatedly and bludgeoned with a vase.
Virgil was sentenced to 70 years in prison. He maintains his innocence.
Kentucky court rules in police roadblock case
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Supreme Court has ruled that police failed to sufficiently follow guidelines in setting up a roadblock that led to a drunken-driving conviction. The ruling is the court's latest effort to balance highway safety and constitutional protections against unreasonable seizures.
The divided court ruled Thursday that the roadblock did not meet a condition of being readily apparent to approaching motorists.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said police failed to put up warning signs informing vehicles of the approaching roadblock. Officers turned on their cruisers' emergency lights, but Minton says that wasn't enough to provide adequate notice to motorists.
In his dissent, Justice Bill Cunningham says the roadblock was in "substantial compliance" with requirements, despite the lack of warning signs.
The case is from Marion County.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.