Politics & Government

State official arrested for DUI seven minutes after leaving work

FRANKFORT — A state official was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence seven minutes after leaving work Monday morning.

Jerry T. Lunsford, a division director in the Finance and Administration Cabinet's Department for Facilities and Support Services, was arrested at 10:37 a.m. by a Kentucky State Police trooper in Frankfort.

Lunsford, 58, contributed $1,000 last year to Gov. Steve Beshear's successful re-election bid and is a business partner of former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. He did not return a phone call to his office seeking comment, and his Frankfort home phone number is unlisted.

Lunsford was at work Monday morning but left at 10:30 a.m. with a supervisor's approval because he was sick, according to personnel records.

The arrest citation said the trooper was stopped for a red light at Schenkel and Versailles roads in Frankfort when a 2012 gold Kia driven by Lunsford continued to drive a car length beyond the stop line before stopping. The Kia is not a state-owned vehicle, said Cindy Lanham, a spokeswoman for the Finance Cabinet.

After the light turned green, the citation said, the car swerved into the trooper's lane, almost striking his vehicle. The trooper stopped the car and said the driver's "speech was slurred, he appeared slightly disoriented and stated he was just tired."

While the trooper conducted field sobriety tests, Lunsford said he was "taking oxycodone for broken ribs earlier in the morning," according to the citation.

The citation said Lunsford "swayed on his feet," and a blood test was taken. Test results are pending.

Pill bottles in the center console of the car included pain and anxiety medications oxycodone, tramadol and lorazepam, the citation said.

In addition to a charge of driving under the influence, Lunsford was charged with disregarding a traffic light, reckless driving and operating a vehicle without a license.

He posted a $376.50 cash bond on the first three charges and a $100 partially secured bond on the driver's license charge. He was released on his own recognizance.

Lunsford is to be arraigned May 31 in Franklin District Court on the traffic violations.

He remains employed with the state, Lanham said. Asked whether Lunsford faces any reprimands because of this week's arrest, she said the cabinet does not discuss personnel issues.

Beshear signed a request March 29 from Finance Secretary Lori Flanery to appoint Lunsford to the position of building services director, effective March 16, according to state personnel records.

The job involves overseeing general maintenance of state facilities and grounds.

Records show that Lunsford resigned March 15 as commissioner of housing, buildings and construction in the Public Protection Cabinet contingent on his appointment to the Finance Cabinet.

With the job change, his annual salary decreased from $94,500 to $75,000.

Lunsford's letter did not say why he asked for the job change.

Dick Brown, a spokesman for the Public Protection Cabinet, said he did not know why Lunsford wanted to leave the Public Protection Cabinet and go to the Finance Cabinet.

Beshear first appointed Lunsford in February 2011 as state housing commissioner in the Public Protection Cabinet. Before that, Lunsford was a Frankfort building contractor.

Mongiardo bought a 54-acre farm in Franklin County in July 2009 from Lunsford for $753,069. He paid nearly $72,000 less than what Lunsford paid for it in 2006.

Mongiardo is now trying to sell the property, which was an issue in his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Mongiardo used his $30,000-a-year state housing allowance to help buy the farm.

On a disclosure form with the state in 2010, Mongiardo listed that he was a partner with Lunsford in real estate ventures.