Politics & Government

Grand jury indicts Clay County judge-executive for alleged bribery, abuse of public trust

A grand jury has indicted Clay County Judge-Executive Joe Lewis Asher, 64, and county road foreman Buford Jarvis, 57, on multiple felony counts related to public corruption.

According to the indictment, issued Thursday, Asher and Buford last September charged several property owners a few hundred dollars each for improvements to their private land using public resources. Specifically, the men installed tile and concrete barriers, according to the indictment. Purchase orders later found in their possession had been altered, according to the indictment.

The men are charged with abuse of public trust, bribery of a public servant and criminal possession of a forged instrument. Clay Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Gregory requested that a warrant be issued for them, with bail set at $50,000, according to court records.

Gregory did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday. Neither did Asher or Jarvis.

Clay County, an impoverished place in Southeastern Kentucky, has a long history of public corruption involving illegal drug sales, theft of public funds or battles for control of local government. Most recently, an exhaustive vote-buying investigation by the FBI led to the convictions of a circuit court judge, county schools superintendent and county clerk, among others public officials.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics