Lexington exec pleads not guilty to federal charges he lied about campaign donations

‘Not guilty.’ Lawyer says Lexington executive will fight federal charges.

Kent Wicker, lawyer for Timothy Wayne Wellman, said his client is not guilty of charges that he lied and instructed others to lie about campaign contributions.
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Kent Wicker, lawyer for Timothy Wayne Wellman, said his client is not guilty of charges that he lied and instructed others to lie about campaign contributions.

An executive of a Lexington real estate company pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he lied to federal investigators and instructed others to lie about campaign contributions to Lexington council members.

Timothy Wayne Wellman, an executive with CRM Companies, was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment Wednesday morning in federal court in Lexington.

Kent Wicker, Wellman’s lawyer, said Wellman will fight the charges. His trial is scheduled for Aug. 20 in Frankfort.

“Wayne Wellman entered a plea of not guilty today because he is not guilty of any crimes,” Wicker said after Wellman’s arraignment.

Wellman was indicted June 6 on eight charges — one count of witness tampering and seven counts of making fraudulent statements. Federal prosecutors allege Wellman paid 12 straw contributors who in turn donated that money to Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council members during the 2018 election.

Wellman allegedly used the straw contributors to circumvent state campaign finance laws that limits contributions by individuals to $2,000 per election.

Timothy Wayne Wellman, left, walks with his lawyer Kent Wicker to appear at an arraignment in federal court in Lexington on charges that he lied about campaign contributions to Lexington council members. Wellman pleaded not guilty on June 19, 2019. Ryan C. Hermens

The indictment alleges Wellman lied to federal investigators about the straw contributors and told the straw contributors to lie to federal investigators or a federal grand jury.

The alleged straw contributors, some of whom are co-workers of Wellman, are only mentioned by initials in the indictment. The indictment does not allege the council members knew about the straw contributors. The council members were not named in the indictment.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew A. Stinnett instructed Wellman not to contact or attempt to contact any of the witnesses in the case, some of whom work at CRM Companies with Wellman.

Wellman can only to discuss business with them and is not to discuss the case or their possible testimony, Stinnett said.

Federal prosecutors allege Wellman was using the campaign contributions to help secure a lease with the city for a new city government building at the current Lexington Herald-Leader building. The push for a new city government center was ultimately abandoned by the council in September.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor said he could not comment on whether the investigation into alleged campaign finance improprieties was ongoing or if he expected other indictments.

In addition to the federal charges, Attorney General Andy Beshear has appointed Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine as a special prosecutor to look into alleged state campaign finance violations involving Wellman. The state investigation into the alleged campaign violations is ongoing, a spokesman for Wine’s office said last week.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council considered a developer's proposal to move city hall to the offices of the Lexington Herald-Leader in 2018. CRM Companies had proposed gutting and expanding the building.