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Former deputy's sentencing delayed due to his vacation

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By Calen McKinney

 

The former sheriff's deputy who broke the law he was hired to uphold wasn't sentenced in federal court last week as planned. This time, his sentencing was delayed because he is on vacation.

But when he is sentenced in two weeks, Billy Rice faces as much as 30 years in federal prison and a large fine.

Rice, a former Taylor County Sheriff's Deputy, of Campbellsville, was charged in early October with committing federal drug crimes. He had initially pleaded not guilty, but has since entered a guilty plea to the charges.

In April, Rice appeared before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. and pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing anabolic steroids. Sentencing was scheduled for June 27.

However, since then, sentencing has been rescheduled twice, first to June 30 and then to last Thursday.

But on July 8, Rice's attorney, Elmer George of Lebanon, filed a request to again reschedule the sentencing again, citing that Rice had already paid for a vacation scheduled for last week.

And, George's motion states, he also had court dates scheduled in Marion and Cumberland Circuit Courts and wouldn't be available for sentencing last Thursday.

George's motion was granted and Rice's sentencing has been rescheduled for Monday, Aug. 11, at 11:30 a.m. in Bowling Green before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr.

According to federal court records, Rice now faces as much as 30 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1.5 million and two years of supervised release after he serves his sentence. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Rice was released on a personal recognizance bond after his arrest last October and remains out on bond today.

Court records state that Rice has admitted he sold steroids on three occasions in Taylor County, between last May 17 and Aug. 22.

According to the federal criminal complaint against Rice, filed by FBI Special Agent Virginia MacHenry, an informant arranged to buy steroids from Rice through text messages and phone calls.

Records state that Rice was seen driving his Taylor County Sheriff's Office vehicle to pre-arranged meetings with the people he was selling the drugs to and also wore his Taylor County Sheriff's Office uniform and a pistol on his hip during one transaction.

In court records, Rice wrote that he knew he wasn't supposed to have a controlled substance without a prescription, and that doing so was against policy at the Taylor County Sheriff's Office.

After Rice's arrest, Taylor County Sheriff Allen Newton fired Rice, who had worked as a sheriff's deputy for nearly eight years.

Rice graduated from the police academy in June 2005 and began working for the sheriff's office thereafter. In December 2011, Rice received the office's Deputy of the Year award.

Amanda E. Gregory of the U.S. Attorney Office in Louisville is prosecuting the case against Rice.

Earlier this year, a civil suit Rice filed in Taylor Circuit Court challenging a decision to not award him unemployment benefits was dismissed.