East Jessamine High School band director Rex Payton was suspended this week as authorities investigate the sale of musical instruments on an Internet auction Web site, Nicholasville police said.
Jessamine County Superintendent Lu Young confirmed that Payton was suspended Monday "pending an internal investigation. We are working with Nicholasville Police Department on this investigation."
A substitute teacher is leading the band in Payton's absence, she said.
Payton, who could not be immediately reached for comment, has not been charged and is cooperating with the investigation, Nicholasville Police Sgt. Scott Harvey said. Police think as much as $5,000 to $7,000 worth of instruments were sold, Harvey said.
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"We believe through our investigation that he's been selling band equipment on eBay that belongs to the school," Harvey said. "Charges have not been filed; however, they're coming. There has to be an audit so we can determine exactly what is missing and what is not. So it takes some time, but I would think within the next week would be a safe bet."
Harvey said police learned about the matter "when one person he sold to found a label on the instrument that said 'Property of Jessamine County schools.'" The auction winner called the schools to verify.
The instruments apparently were "surplus instruments," Harvey said. "They were ones that bands don't have a ton of, like French horns. I don't think they were actually being used."
In May 2009, Payton, who was then West Jessamine High's band director, was cited by Lexington police for loitering for the purpose of prostitution. When police stopped the car Payton was driving, a woman was in the car with him, and police said the two did not know each other's names and had conflicting stories. The charge was dismissed in August 2009.
After that case, Payton was reassigned, and he was later hired at East Jessamine, where he was in his second year as band director, Young said.