Big Sandy jail board debates whether to fire administrator

PAINTSVILLE — Big Sandy Regional Detention Center's oversight board considered whether to fire its administrator Thursday, despite the fact he has not been convicted of bribery charges brought earlier this year.

Henry "Butch" Williams' trial on a charge that he accepted a pickup truck as payment for having an inmate transferred is scheduled for January.

Jail board member Jim Kelly of Johnson County said at the specially called meeting Thursday that there are other reasons to fire Williams.

"This is not dealing with the criminal charge," Kelly said. He said Williams "failed to keep the board informed" of reprimands against guard Doug Muncy, who was charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse of an inmate in January.

Kelly said Williams took unauthorized action to cut checks for construction design work under a contract that the jail has been sued over. The $1.5 million suit, by Frankfort contractor Kenar, is on appeal.

"That alone is basis for termination," Kelly said.

Williams' contract says he can be fired after an absence of three months. It doesn't matter that a court order led to the absence, Kelly said.

Not all board members agreed at Thursday's meeting, where there was a legal quorum of six out of 10 members.

"Let the court take its course," said Martin County board member Garland Muncy. He said the board never heard complaints about Williams' performance until the charges were filed.

Board chairman Pete Fitzpatrick said members tabled the discussion until next week because they thought the full board should vote on the matter.

Williams' latest employment agreement, filed in Johnson Circuit Court records, began on Feb. 19, 2009, and was to have run through Feb. 19, 2013. He was to be paid $63,000 a year.

The agreement, signed by Williams and Kelly, then-chairman of the four-county regional jail authority, does not address termination but does grant the authority power to suspend Williams or place him on probation for unsatisfactory performance.

Williams was arrested in May after a wide-ranging Kentucky State Police investigation. Two other jail officials also were charged: former board chairman John D. Harmon with theft of public funds, and guard Muncy with misdemeanor sexual abuse. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Harmon is running for a Martin County magistrate's office.

Williams was suspended in May, and the jail authority hired a Paintsville consultant and former federal prison official Randy Madan as interim administrator.

The Paintsville jail serves Johnson, Martin, Lawrence and Magoffin counties.

Also tabled at Thursday's meeting was whether to raise the jail's inmate housing fee charged to each county by $4, from $19 a day to $23 a day.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader