Criminal summons served on Hodgenville police chief

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Official misconduct charge tied to alleged conversation with Terry Cruse

By Gina Clear

Another LaRue County official has a criminal court appearance scheduled.

Hodgenville Police Chief Steve Johnson has been served a summons following a Kentucky State Police investigation into his conduct. A misconduct accusation is connected to a previous investigation that led to criminal charges against former Hodgenville Mayor Terry Cruse and City Clerk MaDonna Hornback.

Johnson faces charges of first-degree official misconduct and second-degree hindering a prosecution or apprehension.

According to the court document, officer Eddie Dockery said during KSP’s investigation of Cruse and Hornback, Johnson contacted Cruse on Dec. 16 and 17 and advised him “to lay low and get out of town.”

In his professional capacity, Johnson had knowledge KSP was looking to arrest Cruse after indictment warrants were issued for the then-mayor.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Whitney Meredith called Johnson’s credibility into question during a motion hearing June 2 in a criminal case against Cruse and Hornback in LaRue Circuit Court.

Meredith requested evidence regarding a confidential informant, Hornback’s son, to which Johnson testified during Cruse’s removal hearing May 1 before Hodgenville City Council.

Cruse said he was never on the run and finds it “odd” the commonwealth would bring charges against Johnson.

“We made arrangements with an officer of the court to get our bonds ready,” he said of himself and Hornback. “We had an agreement made to be there in the morning (after the indictment was returned). I don’t know how they are charging him with that.”

Hodgenville Mayor Kenny Devore said although he hasn’t seen the summons, it does not change Johnson’s employment status with the city.

“It’s just a summons,” he said. “Most everyone knows possible charges may have been coming for a while now. It’s nothing new. I’m not going to make any rash decisions.”

Johnson could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The charges are Class A misdemeanors and punishable by up to one year in prison if Johnson is found guilty. He is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. July 16 in LaRue District Court.

Cruse faces nine counts of abuse of public trust, one count of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of campaign contribution restrictions-expense limits and two counts of second-degree forgery.

Hornback is charged with 54 counts of abuse of public trust and one count of theft by unlawful taking.

Each charge is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison if convicted. Cruse and Hornback entered not-guilty pleas following the indictments.

Cruse and Hornback are scheduled to be tried jointly Sept. 8.

Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or gclear@thenewsenterprise.com.