Message sent; convicted airport official goes to jail

John P. Slone
John P. Slone

It's hard to believe that former Blue Grass Airport executive John P. Slone did not realize he could go directly to jail for a parole violation when he went to court last week.

After all, this time last year, the ex-director of planning and development was sentenced to a year in prison for misdemeanor theft by deception of airport funds.

But Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled he wouldn't go to jail if he stayed out of trouble for two years.

Though the sentence outraged many citizens, it was well within the judge's legal discretion. Just as was her decision last week to send him to jail for pleading guilty to a DUI in Indiana.

It's quite reasonable that Slone, employed and paying restitution, could successfully appeal for shock probation; prosecutors had recommended against jail time. But Goodwine's decision at least says there are repercussions — even if delayed — for taking public money for personal use.

The judge knows from experience that this community would not be eager to give many third chances to the four airport officials convicted of misspending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

She also was criticized by some — including this page — for not offering to recuse herself because of past, limited work on an airport committee and for comments that left impressions that a defendant's faith or connections would influence her decisions.

Goodwine, who has a reputation of being tough but fair, was clearly not in the mood for leniency last week. "My word means something," she told Slone. "My sentences mean something."

We hope her frustration also reinforces this: The public trust means something.