VERSAILLES — A Lexington man who received probated sentences for taking public marriage documents from the Jessamine and Bourbon County courthouses wasn't as lucky in Woodford County.
William Bush Jr., 51, was sentenced Wednesday to one year in prison by Woodford Circuit Court Judge Rob Johnson. Bush pleaded guilty in April to one count of tampering with public documents. That count accused him of taking 188 documents from the Woodford County clerk's office.
Johnson rejected defense attorney Kate Dunn's request for probation, saying that would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.
Bush was indicted separately in Jessamine, Woodford, Bourbon, Scott and Fayette counties on multiple counts of tampering with public records. In all, Bush was accused of taking 999 documents from the five counties, according to indictments. Dunn said all the records were returned.
Marriage licenses are available for public inspection at any courthouse, but they are not to be taken from the clerks' offices.
Bush said he took the documents because he worked for Pro Data Research, an online company that sells mortgage insurance, and used information from the marriage licenses to type in data for the company.
When he was arrested in September, Bush told police in Jessamine County that he took the documents from the courthouses because he did not have the money to copy them. In addition, Dunn told the judge Wednesday that Bush took the documents with him because he wanted to be close to his ailing mother while he worked.
Bush received probated sentences in Jessamine and Bourbon counties, although in Jessamine he was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail. In Bourbon County, Judge Paul Isaacs, the other judge for the circuit that covers Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties, chose to probate a one-year sentence for five years.
But Johnson said, "I can't get past what's happened here."
"You can't just walk in public buildings and become custodian of these records," Johnson told Bush. "The enormity of what you took is more than I can understand."
When Bush, who is single, said he has a house with a mortgage, Johnson cut him off and his voice rose. "That's not my fault. Don't put it on my back."
Bush is scheduled to appear in Scott County on Monday for a status hearing before Johnson. The judge told Bush to be ready to report to the state Department of Corrections at that time.
In the meantime, Bush has pleaded not guilty to tampering with public records in Fayette County. A status hearing is scheduled there for June 18.