Kentucky

Elliott County Clerk closes shop, leaves officials wondering

SANDY HOOK — If you had business to do at the Elliott County Clerk's office on Wednesday — such as getting a marriage license or renewing your car registration — you were out of luck.

A sign on the county courthouse door said the office was closed until further notice. Employees in the offices of the sheriff and the circuit court clerk, who are in the same building, didn't know exactly what was going on. And Judge-Executive David Blair said he was "in hiding" from all the folks who were calling.

Reeda S. Ison, the county clerk, told her two employees on Tuesday that they no longer had jobs, closed her office at 3:30 p.m. and left a message for callers saying the office was closed "due to my resignation due to bad health and other complications. I thank everyone for their prayers and their concern for me."

Ison, who was indicted on charges of theft and betrayal of the public trust last June, did not give the county judge-executive an official resignation letter.

Blair said Wednesday that he was "going in circles" because he can't appoint a new clerk until that official letter is received. He was getting lots of calls from people who wanted to be appointed to the job.

Prosecutors from the attorney general's office who are handling Ison's case are on the agenda for a special meeting of the county fiscal court Thursday morning to discuss Ison's resignation or a plea agreement, Blair said.

But a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said that no agreement had been reached and that Ison's next court date is May 8.

Ison's attorney, Paul Craft of Greenup, could not be reached for comment.

The mess started with state audits of Ison's finances going back to 2001.

Auditor's filings dated May 2007 in Elliott Circuit Court records say Ison had account deficits totaling nearly $50,000.

The 2008 indictment said tax money collected from the public was owed to the IRS, Social Security, the state, the county fiscal court, the county board of education, the county ambulance district, the county health department and the county extension service.

However, according to the indictment, thousands of dollars went instead to Ison's own payroll, which should have been managed by the county treasurer, Blair said. Ison was paid $1,300 more than allowed by state law in 2006, according to the auditor's filings. They also say Ison didn't pay taxes on the $3,600 expense allowance she received that year.

Ison withheld federal and state taxes from her employees' paychecks, according to the indictment, but used the money to pay herself and her office expenses.

Auditor's filings said Ison had overspent her budgets approved by the county fiscal court and had not properly filed her bond to protect the public funds.

An audit of Ison's 2007 finances is scheduled to be released Friday.

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