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Harlan Co. Circuit Judge says he's been made a scapegoat

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Circuit Judge Russell Alred says he is a scapegoat who's been forced to do the dirty work of other county officials.

In his closing remarks during an ethics hearing, Alred said he is a victim of Harlan County politics.

Judge Alred took the stand in his own defense.

"I didn't control the timeline. The Sheriff's Office controlled the timeline," said Alred.

He said he issued the Special Grand Jury order to investigate Judge Executive Joe Grieshop for drug trafficking because the investigation was still ongoing.

"I labored over the decision to issue this order," said Alred.

Alred said he is a victim at the hands of Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird and Commonwealth's Attorney Henry Johnson.

"I was not after Judge Alred. I was not after Judge Joe Grieshop. All I was trying to do was correct an injustice," said Johnson.

Johnson testified earlier in the week that Judge Alred knew the Attorney General's office said there was not enough evidence to return an indictment in the case.

But attorneys for the commission said Alred issued the Special Grand Jury order anyway despite the pending primary election - and then he got angry when the case was presented to the regular grand jury.

"The only explanation for his emotional and vindictive reaction was that it was his scheme that was being thwarted, not mine," said Johnson.

Alred said he knew he would be targeted.

"I was told by the sheriff the Chaplain's Corps was mad at me, and they would get after me because I did not agree to allow that $50,000 donation to go to the Chaplain's Corps," said Alred.

The circumstances surrounding that money are also being considered by the commission.

Meanwhile Alred said he forgives all of those involved, as his fate is now in the hands of the commission.

Mountain News talked to Sheriff Marvin Lipfird by phone Wednesday afternoon. He said there was never a scheme to target the Circuit Judge, and that the Sheriff's Department was just doing its job.

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