Four Eastern Kentucky officials are arrested on fraud charges.
Prosecutors say Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson, two deputies in his office, and a magistrate were involved in a vote buying scheme. It's the second time in a row that a Knott County judge executive has been indicted on federal vote buying charges. Former Judge Executive Donnie Newsome was convicted of the crime in 2003. There's mixed reaction in Hindman about possible abuse of public funds again.
As Knott County Judge Executive, Randy Thompson brought a lot of tourism focused projects to the county such as an ATV training center, a skate park, and a multi-million dollar sportsplex.
"I've known Randy for 30 years. In that time, I've never known of Randy doing anything wrong. Randy's always been a big dreamer and a hard worker and when you do that, you've got a winner and Knott County had a winner in Randy Thompson for the last few years," said Sportsplex Director Rhett Gibson.
Back in July, federal agents shut down four county offices taking boxes of paperwork. That's when more questions stirred about just how the first ever Republican judge executive got elected.
"If he done wrong, lets straighten this county out. Lets make this a nice county to live in where we can all live in it and do right and quit the wrong. It's been that way for years and it's not getting any better," said Knott County Resident Roy Jent.
Following the visit from the feds, the state auditor reported numerous questionable county records including nearly $800,000 dollars in county road expenses that couldn't be validated.
The indictment accuses Judge Thompson, Deputy Judge Executives Phillip Champion and Mac Combs, as well as Magistrate Ronnie Adams of conspiring together to pave private driveways and build more than ten bridges to connect private and public roads all in exchange to vote for Thompson in the November 2006 election. All four men pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on their own recognizance. As part of the conditions of their release, the men must stay in Eastern Kentucky and must not have any contact with victims or possible witnesses in the case.
A trial date for all four men was set for February 5th.
Officials would not comment on whether more arrests will be made in the case.