Crime

Two Big Sandy jail employees and former board chairman are indicted

PAINTSVILLE — Two Big Sandy Regional Detention Center employees and the former chairman of the board that oversees the jail were indicted Thursday in Johnson Circuit Court.

John Harmon, 64, of Pilgrim in Martin County was charged with theft of more than $300, a class D felony, by submitting vouchers for unauthorized travel and expenses to and from the jail and to conferences, court records say. Court documents say the alleged theft occurred from Jan. 18, 2007, through March 2009.

Harmon, who on Tuesday won the Republican primary for the 4th District magistrate's seat in Martin County, turned himself in Thursday afternoon and was being held at the Floyd County jail, according to Kentucky State Police.

Jail administrator Henry "Butch" Williams, 54, of Oil Springs in Johnson County, who was arrested Tuesday, was indicted on a charge of accepting a bribe from an inmate, a class C felony. The charge stems from an incident that allegedly occurred in January 2009. Williams was released on $10,000 cash bond.

Police said Williams accepted a Ford F-150 pickup from an inmate in exchange for having the inmate's wife transferred to Big Sandy from another jail.

Jail guard Doug Muncy, 34, of Inez in Martin County was charged with second-degree sexual abuse of an inmate, a misdemeanor. Muncy was fired in January after receiving official reprimands for unprofessional behavior, including dropping his pants and trying to hug sheriff's deputies, and exposing himself to an inmate.

The jail, which serves Magoffin, Martin, Lawrence and Johnson counties, is in Paintsville, which is in Johnson County. It has been under investigation by state police and auditors for more than a year.

"Board members need to get more involved and hands-on," said Commonwealth's Attorney Anna Melvin, who gave a presentation to the regional jail authority board Thursday night.

She said complaints were still coming in about the jail, and the investigation is continuing.

Those complaints, according to the grand jury report filed in court records, include drugs in the jail, the use of inmates for the purpose of "peep shows," improper accounting of commissary funds, lack of control over the jail guards' actions toward inmates, and the use of inmates for personal gain by jail employees and their families.

The grand jury report also said accounting practices make it "difficult, if not impossible, to determine if and when theft has occurred at the jail."

Before the meeting, jail authority board member Jim Kelly said he thought the theft Harmon is accused of totaled more than $5,000 and possibly as much as $9,500.

The report says, "Jail administration should set aside political influence when exercising their decision-making functions."

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