The Richmond Register

July 18, 2013

AG: Former county clerk altered records to avoid taxes

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — More details were released Thursday in the theft indictment of a former Madison County clerk.

A Madison grand jury indicted Billy Gabbard this week on a charge of theft by failure to make required disposition of property (over $300).

Gabbard held the county clerk’s office from 2002 to 2010. He did not run for re-election in 2010.

The attorney general’s office began investigating Gabbard in November 2009 after a critical state auditor’s report about Gabbard’s money-handling procedures in the clerk’s office.

Gabbard is accused of changing social security numbers in the Automated Vehicle Information System, allowing him to register his personal vehicles without paying taxes, interest and penalties, according to a news release from the attorney general’s office.

A special prosecutor from the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is handling the case at the request of Madison Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith.

The theft charge is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Gabbard is scheduled for arraignment 11:30 a.m. Aug. 15 in Madison Circuit Court.

Current County Clerk Kenny Barger said he has complied with all requests from the state attorney general and auditor during the investigation into Gabbard.

When he came into office in January 2011, Barger said he and his staff completed a thorough review of all policies and procedures related to accounting, human resources, ethics and work standards.

“Upon that review, I determined that, among other things, accounting controls had not been established to ensure proper oversight of taxpayer dollars,” Barger said in a written statement.

Since then, Barger said he has worked with the state auditor and attorney general in implementing a variety of practices to strengthen the “checks and balances” within the county clerk’s office.

In Kentucky, the county clerk is responsible for issuing automobile registrations, registering voters and performing other election-related duties. The county clerk also retains written verification of certain oaths of office, stores various legal records and county records, and prepares the county tax bills.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.