Audit alleges 1 county attorney paid wife $126K bonus, another funded personal expenses

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Mike Harmon, the Kentucky auditor of public accounts, announced Thursday that his audit findings for three prosecutors' offices will be referred to the FBI and the state attorney.

Harmon alleged that one county attorney paid his wife a bonus of $126,500, while another used funds to pay expenses that were personal or for his private law office. In a third office, auditor questions led to the indictment of a former supervisor last year.

The Louisville Courier Journal and Lex 18 have coverage; a press release is here, and the report is here.

County attorneys in Kentucky prosecute misdemeanors and serve as counsels to county officials.

Harmon audited nine county attorney offices based on an initial survey of 16 offices across the state. He identified issues that included a lack of supporting documentation for some expenditures and donations to local groups.

Harmon alleged possible misuse of public funds for these offices:

• Over a two-year period, the Lawrence County attorney allegedly awarded $134,500 in bonuses to employees from delinquent tax fees. Of that amount, $126,500 was paid to the county attorney’s wife, who worked as a secretary in the office.

In response to the findings, Michael Hogan, who’s the Lawrence County attorney, said the bonuses didn’t violate any legal or ethical guidelines, and his wife is “the true indispensable, full-time employee of the office,” according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

• The Gallatin County attorney’s office allegedly used funds to pay more than $36,000 for both personal expenses and expenses related to the county attorney’s private law office, including loans to that office. The private law office and the county attorney’s office are housed in the same office building. Personal expenses paid included credit card bills and a family monthly cellphone bill. Most of the money came from the delinquent tax account.

John G. Wright is the Gallatin County attorney. His wife is the bookkeeper for the county attorney’s office. Wright said in his response that his office hired an accountant to review the audit and recommend best practices.

• A former office supervisor with the child support enforcement office of C. Phillip Hedrick, who’s the Boyd County attorney, was indicted on 77 charges in November 2019 for allegedly taking more than $113,000 over a seven-year period. The Kentucky State Police had investigated after the auditor asked questions.

Updated May 22 and 12:02 p.m. to add paragraph about county attorney responsibilities.

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