Former state worker pleads guilty to misconduct

Police say state-owned vehicle was used to deliver stolen materials to recycling center

By Calen McKinney/Central Kentucky News-Journal Published:

A Taylor County man has pleaded guilty to committing official misconduct while working for the state. As a result, he is out of a job.

Bobby Thomas, 57, of Campbellsville, was arrested at 12:16 p.m. on Dec. 1.

According to a Campbellsville Police Department news release, Thomas was working for the Kentucky Department of Parks. He was charged after he allegedly operated a state-owned vehicle while he was off duty.

Thomas appeared before Taylor District Court Judge Amy Anderson on Dec. 17 and pleaded guilty to the charge.

He was ordered to pay a $400 fine and $178 in court costs and was sentenced to serve 180 days in jail, which was probated for two years.

Thomas also pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking in another case and was ordered to pay $103.95 in court costs. He was also sentenced to an additional 180 days in jail, probated for two years, which is to be served at the same time as his other probation sentence.

A Green River Lake State Park representative referred comment to Gil Lawson, media spokesperson for the Department of Parks.

Lawson said earlier this month that Thomas is a contract construction employee who works for the state about 11 months out of the year on state park projects. He said Thomas is not a state merit employee and hasn’t worked for the state since being arrested.

“This matter is under investigation and we do expect to take action soon,” Lawson said earlier this month.

Last week, Lawson said Thomas is no longer employed with the state. He said Thomas was given a letter on Dec. 5 that said his services were no longer needed because he had violated parks policies that say state-owned vehicles are to only be used for official purposes.

Thomas was already serving a probation sentence when he was arrested.

According to court records, Thomas has received several traffic citations in the past few years, along with a theft charge earlier this year. After pleading guilty to that charge in June, he was ordered to pay $1,743 and sentenced to two years’ probation.

The official misconduct investigation stemmed from a report of a theft at a local business.

According to a news release, Campbellsville Police received a report of a theft from a local business about two months ago.

Officer Bart Gilpin began an investigation and found that a state-owned vehicle was being used to deliver stolen materials to a local recycling business, which is a violation of state laws that refer to the proper use of state-owned property.

The release states that further investigation revealed Thomas was operating the vehicle and had allegedly concealed the vehicle’s identity by covering its state seal decal, which is required for all state-owned vehicles.

The investigation also revealed, according to the release, that Thomas frequently drove a vehicle registered to the state and was seen delivering items to the recycling company.

After gathering information, Gilpin filed a complaint against Thomas at the Taylor County Attorney’s Office, accusing him of committing theft and second-degree official misconduct.

While on patrol Dec. 1, Campbellsville Police Officer Scotty Perian saw a vehicle matching the description of the one Thomas was accused of illegally operating. Perian stopped the vehicle and arrested Thomas.

Thomas was charged with theft by unlawful taking and second-degree official misconduct, both misdemeanor offenses.

According to Thomas’ arrest citation, when Perian arrested him, he had covered the state decals on the vehicle with black magnets.

Court records state that Thomas told Perian he put the magnets on the vehicle so people wouldn’t see that the truck was owned by the state.

Thomas told Perian that he was told to take the vehicle to get new tires for it, and workers performed other work on it instead.

Records state that Thomas told Perian that he had driven around Campbellsville to a store to make a purchase. Thomas also said he had used the vehicle to haul metal and other items to scrap yards.

Records state that the theft charge against Thomas stems from an Oct. 8 incident. Thomas allegedly went to Harris Furniture and loaded a desk and washing machine valued at $99.

After being read his Miranda rights while being arrested on Dec. 1, court records state, Thomas refused to talk to Perian and asked to speak to his attorney, Todd Spalding of Lebanon.

Spalding declined to comment on the case earlier this month. Neither he nor Thomas could be reached for comment.

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