Former Whitley Co. Sheriff formally sentenced in federal court

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge now knows what his punishment will be.

Hodge entered a guilty plea months ago in federal court on conspiracy and extortion charges. He admitted to using his position to extort money from the county to fund his addiction to pills!

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove accepted the plea agreement reached by both sides.

"The judge was very straightforward. He felt like the crimes justified a serious punishment," said Brent Caldwell, Hodge's attorney.

The former sheriff will spend 186 months, or 15 and a half years, behind bars and owe the federal government $50,000.

He will also pay almost $65,000 back to Whitley County - money he embezzled through a scheme with former bookkeeper Vicky Paul.

"He's obviously sad that he put himself into this situation and is willing to go do his time," said Caldwell.

Caldwell only represents Hodge with respect to the federal charges. Hodge faces a number of additional charges in state court.

Caldwell said it is possible that those charges could be resolved without a trial.

"Historically this whole region has been plagued by corruption, so I assume things would have gone on just as they had previously if no one would have done anything with it," said Adam Sulfridge.

Sulfridge previously reported for the Corbin Times Tribune and uncovered Hodge's illegal activity. He said this is another step toward getting rid of corruption in the county.

The judge gave the former sheriff an opportunity to address the court during the hearing, but Hodge declined to comment. His family said they had no comment either.

The judge said the case was "particularly disheartening" because Hodge was in a position of trust. It's not known where he will serve his prison time.

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