June 29, 2010
Judge Pamela Goodwine
Fayette Circuit Court
Dear Judge Goodwine,
We read where you attached considerable significance to the fact that lots of letters were written in support of a couple of former airport executives who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft, while you received no letters from victims.
"That says something," you were quoted as saying.
Let us suggest another interpretation.
Perhaps what it says is that the taxpayers, who are the victims in this crime, just assumed that you would automatically consider their interests in this and similar cases.
After all, taxpayers elect you. They pay your salary. They rely on you, the courts and public prosecutors to safeguard the integrity of public institutions and punish public corruption.
Justice isn't supposed to be a popularity contest, is it?
We respect that you were well within your authority to let off the Blue Grass Airport's former operations director John Coon and former director of planning and development John Slone with no jail time or probation, even though they had agreed to serve up to a year in prison.
Knowing that was the maximum sentence, they had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit theft. In return, the prosecution dropped a felony charge against each of them.
Despite all that, we figured they'd get no time after you spared a higher-ranking official, John Rhodes, of any jail time or probation, even though he had pleaded guilty to a more serious crime committed in his official capacity as the airport's director of finance and administration.
What really rankles is the rationale you expressed at Friday's sentencing. We resent the suggestion that people who have impressive connections are somehow less accountable for their actions than defendants who have far less going for them and are held more accountable.
Can you say "double standard"?
Also, it should matter that these men were enriching themselves at the expense of the public institution that employed them.
Tax dollars help pay for Blue Grass Airport, where the state auditor detailed more than $500,000 in undocumented or questionable expenses made by seven top officials over a two-year period.
Of those seven, four were indicted. You have rejected the prosecutor's sentencing recommendations and let off three of them with no jail time or probation.
The fourth and final, airport director, Michael Gobb, awaits sentencing in your court.
Just so you know, we care.