Morgan County official won't comment on reported federal investigation

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comAugust 21, 2013 

Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley declined to comment Wednesday about a television news report that federal investigators spent Tuesday afternoon searching his office.

"I've not even talked to an attorney yet," Conley said Wednesday. "I can't ... comment about anything."

Conley said his office was open Wednesday.

A dispatcher at the Kentucky State Police post at Morehead and Attorney General Jack Conway's spokeswoman Allison Martin referred questions about the reported search to the FBI.

In response to questions about Conley, FBI spokeswoman Mary Trotman said Wednesday that federal agents conducted an authorized search Tuesday in Morgan County in connection with an investigation. Trotman declined to comment further.

WYMT-TV reported that investigators confiscated records and a computer from Conley's office.

West Liberty Mayor Mark Walter said Wednesday that as far as he knew, no other local official's office had been searched.

Walter said he didn't know anything about the investigation, and no investigative authority had questioned him or told him anything. Walter characterized investigators as "tight-lipped."

Walter said Conley "had the key role" in Morgan County's recovery from an EF3 tornado that reduced much of West Liberty's downtown to rubble on March 2, 2012. The tornado generated winds of up to 165 mph.

This year, Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced that West Liberty and Morgan County would get about $30 million from state and federal sources in what could be Kentucky's biggest recovery project.

"Judge Conley, in my opinion, is the reason the progress has gone as far as it has," Walter said. Walter credited Conley for "taking the issue and running with it."

"He contacted the right people. He was very instrumental in getting our recovery efforts instituted," Walter said.

Officials from the U.S. attorney's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

In 2007, Conley was indicted on state charges, charged with three counts of abuse of public trust.

A special grand jury alleged that in 2005, Conley gave a Morgan County resident a 20-foot section of county-owned drainpipe worth $500; gave the Cow Branch Primitive Baptist Church three sections of pipe worth $900 for installation on private property; and had workers at the county garage do $650 worth of repairs on a bulldozer he had lent to the county.

Those charges were dismissed on a technicality involving the grand jury, the Herald-Leader reported at the time.

Conley, a Republican, asked for and received a pardon from then-Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher even though he hadn't been convicted of a crime.

"As you know, they will again attempt to load a grand jury and attempt to indict me," Conley wrote in his Dec. 3, 2007, pardon request to Fletcher.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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