The former sheriff of Harlan County pleaded guilty to stealing at least $10,000 through various means, including by writing checks to himself from a fund that was supposed to be used to finance undercover drug buys.
Marvin J. Lipfird pleaded guilty to two felony charges on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram in federal court in London.
Lipfird’s plea agreement said he stole the money between November 2011 and November 2013.
The plea agreement said restitution will be at least $10,000, but could be higher. The government reserved the right to argue that the loss actually was more than $15,000.
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Lipfird waived his right to appeal his conviction, but will be able to appeal the sentence if U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove imposes more than 12 months in prison.
Lipfird’s attorney, David S. Hoskins, said he will seek probation for Lipfird. No sentencing date has been set.
The indictment said Lipfird misappropriated about $25,000 while he was in office.
In addition to taking money from the drug account, Lipfird allegedly used a county credit card for personal purchases and filed requests to be reimbursed for expenses the county had already paid.
Some of the alleged misappropriations initially came to light in state audits.
Auditors said a total of $27,774 in spending by Lipfird’s office in 2012 and 2013 was not appropriate, including $2,159 for food or alcohol; $1,162 in hotel charges; $453 for personal clothing; $135 for baby items; $659 for subscriptions to websites, including a dating site and a site offering legal advice; and $90 for a massage.
Lipfird was a police officer in Harlan County for two decades, working with the Loyall and Evarts city departments before taking office as sheriff in 2007 and serving two terms.
He also received wider attention through a reality television show called “Kentucky Justice,” about an Appalachian sheriff fighting drugs and “devoting his life to cleaning up the community,” as a promotional release described the program.
The show aired on the National Geographic channel in late 2013 and early 2014.
Lipfird was defeated for re-election in 2014 and left office at the end of that year.