Former Garrard fire official pleads guilty

LANCASTER — The former secretary and treasurer for the Buckeye Fire Department in Garrard County pleaded guilty Friday to stealing from the organization.

Kenneth D. Tullar also entered an Alford plea to one count of cultivation of more than five marijuana plants. The plea means Tullar acknowledged there was enough evidence for a jury to convict him even though he did not admit guilt.

He was indicted in March 2008 on 16 counts of theft by unlawful taking over $300. Tullar, who was secretary and treasurer for the rural fire department from 2001 to 2008, was accused of writing checks for personal purchases from the department's account.

Exactly how much money was taken is still in dispute. Prosecutors allege that Tullar used about $73,000 as his own, but public defender Susanne McCollough told the court the amount is closer to $20,000.

McCollough told Garrard Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty that Tullar is "admitting that as treasurer of the volunteer fire department he did use some of the fire department funds for his own use."

For example, McCollough said, Tullar used some money "to make a mortgage payment on his house."

It will be up to Daugherty to sort it out Nov. 20, when a restitution hearing is scheduled. At that time, Daugherty will hear testimony about the amounts. The hearing is expected to take a couple of hours.

Immediately after that hearing, Daugherty will sentence Tullar on the theft and marijuana-cultivation charges. David Thomas, the Nicholasville defense attorney who represents Tullar on the cultivation count, indicated that he intends to request probation. Tullar faces a one-year sentence on the cultivation count.

Two misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed.

Prosecutors offered no recommended sentence on the theft charges, so it will be up to Daugherty to determine Tullar's punishment on those.