State contractor charged with theft, misconduct

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By Calen McKinney

A Taylor County man who works for the state, and is currently on probation, has pleaded not guilty to committing official misconduct.

Bobby Thomas, 57, of 730 Elmore Road, was arrested at 12:16 p.m. on Dec. 1.

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

The news release states that Campbellsville Police received a report of a theft from a local business several weeks ago.

Officer Bart Gilpin began an investigation into the theft and found that a vehicle believed to be state-owned was involved in delivering 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 that Thomas was operating the vehicle and had allegedly concealed the identity of the vehicle by covering the state seal, which is required for all state-owned vehicles.

To continue the investigation, the release states, law enforcement officials contacted the state’s Department of Parks park ranger division, which confirmed that Thomas works for the department’s construction division.

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.

According to the release, Thomas was arrested last Saturday. When on patrol, Campbellsville Police Officer Scotty Perian observed a vehicle matching the description of the one Thomas was operating. Perian initiated a traffic stop and arrested Thomas.

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

The release states that an additional official misconduct charge is pending, since Thomas was allegedly driving a state-owned vehicle unlawfully when arrested.

Thomas was lodged at the Taylor County Detention Center. The state-owned vehicle he was driving was impounded, according to the release, and Gilpin and Perian are continuing the investigation.

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 state-owned.

Thomas told Perian that he was told to take the vehicle to get new tries 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, court records state, Thomas refused to talk to Perian and asked to speak to an attorney, Todd Spalding of Lebanon. Spalding declined to comment on the case.

On Monday, Thomas pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Bond was set at $250 cash, which was posted that day and he was released.

Records state that Thomas was ordered to not have contact with Harris Furniture or use state-owned vehicles for anything but state business.

A pretrial conference was set in Thomas’ cases for Monday, Dec. 17.

A phone call to Thomas to comment hadn’t been returned by press time.

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

Lawson said Thomas is a contract construction employee for the state and works about 11 months out of the year on state park projects. He said Thomas is not a state merit employee and has not worked for the state since his arrest.

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

Lawson said the department has no further comment on the charges, as it typically does not comment on personnel or criminal matters.

Taylor County Attorney John Bertram said the official misconduct charge against Thomas is a Class B misdemeanor offense, punishable by as much as 90 days in jail or as much as a $250 fine or both.

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 the charge in June, he was ordered to pay $1,743 and sentenced to two years’ probation.