By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
A former Madison County clerk pleaded guilty last month to an amended charge of official misconduct and has paid restitution to the county.
The special prosecutor in the criminal case recommended that Billy Gabbard be sentenced to 12 months in jail, probated for two years. He also was ordered to pay $2,049.01 restitution to the county clerk’s office, according to court documents
Gabbard is set to be sentenced 9:30 a.m. Feb. 3. He is represented by attorney Jerry W. Gilbert.
Gabbard, who held the county clerk’s office from 2002 to 2010, originally was indicted by a Madison grand jury last year on a charge of theft by failure to make required disposition of property.
Gabbard was accused of changing social security numbers in the Automated Vehicle Information System, allowing him to register his personal vehicles without paying taxes, interest or penalties, according to a news release from the state attorney general’s office.
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.
Theft by failure to make disposition of property is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison. The amended charge of first-degree official misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
Gabbard’s plea agreement stated the reason for his amended charge was that he “had made full restitution and is no longer employed in any official capacity,” according to court documents.
A letter dated Dec. 11 from County Clerk Kenny Barger, who took over the office in January 2011 after his election, stated to the court that Gabbard has paid the clerk’s office the full $2,049.01.
Gabbard’s case was assigned to a judge outside of Madison County, and his prosecution was conducted by a special assistant commonwealth’s attorney also outside of the Madison judicial circuit.
County clerks in Kentucky are 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, including deeds, and county records, and prepares county tax bills.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.