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No need to reach agreement with Gobb, airport chairman says

Blue Grass Airport board chairman J. Robert Owens said this week the board sees no need to reach an agreement on reimbursements from former airport executive director Michael Gobb.

Instead, Owens, referring to Gobb's recent indictment on felony theft charges stemming from a spending scandal at the airport, said the board would wait for the legal system to run its course.

That's news to Patrick Nash, Gobb's attorney.

"I did not realize that the (chairman) of the board made that decision," Nash said Wednesday. He said he's been in discussions with airport board attorney Thomas Halbleib on a regular basis about a reimbursement settlement and other issues.

"There's numerous issues to discuss between us and them," he said. He refused to elaborate.

In September, the airport board authorized its chairman to enter into an agreement accepting $20,000 in reimbursements from Gobb. Representatives of Gobb had indicated Gobb's willingness to repay $10,000 that the airport paid on his behalf to a treatment facility in Arizona in July 2008, plus an additional $10,000.

"We want to work with the airport board to resolve this thing, there's no question," Nash said Wednesday. He said he and his client are interested in coming to a resolution, whether it's before or after the criminal case has ended.

Gobb and three former airport directors pleaded not guilty last month to theft charges stemming from the spending scandal. Gobb faces nine counts. Former airport administration and finance director John Rhodes faces six charges. John Coon, the airport's former director of operations, and John Slone, former airport director of planning and development, have been charged with one count each of theft. The airport board forced the four men to resign last winter.

"We see no need in settling with Mike Gobb with the current litigation," Owens said.

The $10,000 check for Gobb's medical expenses had been the subject of a dispute, with the airport board saying it was a loan and Gobb saying it was part of his compensation. The check was written just before Gobb took a six-week medical leave of absence from his job.

Airport officials provided the Herald-Leader with copies of that check with some information redacted, including the name of the payee. Airport officials said the payee information constituted confidential health information. The Herald-Leader sought an opinion from the state attorney general's office as to whether the information should have been redacted. The attorney general's office said the airport erred in redacting the check, that public interest in disclosure outweighed Gobb's privacy interests.

Recently, the newspaper received a copy of the check without redactions. The payee on the check was Cottonwood de Tucson, an Arizona treatment facility for a wide range of conditions, including substance abuse and post traumatic stress disorder.

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