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Cruse, Hornback maintain innocence

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Joint statement: Outcome will be much different than it looks today

By Jeff D'Alessio

Facing nearly 70 charges, Hodgenville Mayor Terry L. Cruse and City Clerk MaDonna Hornback spent less than 45 minutes in jail Tuesday morning and maintained their innocence against Monday’s grand jury indictment.

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The pair turned themselves in to LaRue County Sheriff Merle Edlin. They are scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Jan. 6 in LaRue Circuit Court.

A one-page joint statement signed by Cruse said, “when this is over the outcome will be much different than it looks today.” Both said they have no intention of resigning.

Cruse was booked into the jail at 8:46 a.m. and Hornback was booked at 9:02 a.m. Both posted their $9,500 cash or property bond and were released by 9:31 a.m., according to jail records.

In his second term as mayor, 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.

Both Cruse and Hornback are accused of using a city gas card to make personal purchases. The indictment states Cruse did so from June 10, 2012 to Feb. 18, 2013; and Hornback, from March 25, 2012 to April 9, 2013.

All charges facing the 56-year-old are Class D felonies, punishable by up to five years in jail on each count.

Cruse said in the statement that both he and Hornback used the city gas credit card “legitimately under city policy.”

As far as the theft by unlawful taking charge both face, the pair said it refers to legitimate mileage reimbursements but they charged a state rate of 55 cents per mile. The Commonwealth claims the rate should be 47 cents a mile.

In the statement, the charges of two counts of unlawfully taking and not reporting more than $50 in campaign contributions during his bid for LaRue County Sheriff in 2010 are mentioned but there is no explanation of what occurred. Cruse also is charged with two counts of forgery in the indictment when he “falsely completed an election finance statement.”

“We are obviously disappointed at the outcome of the grand jury’s decision,” Cruse said in a statement. “Both MaDonna and I both maintain our innocence.”

Hornback, 52, is charged with 54 counts of abuse of public trust and one count of theft by unlawful taking. She became city clerk and treasurer in July 2007.

The charges Hornback faces are Class D felonies, punishable by up to five years in jail on each charge.

LaRue County Commonwealth Attorney Terry Geoghegan said the investigation was prompted by “citizen complaints.”

According to the statement released Tuesday, Cruse and Hornback had prepared an eight-page outline of their position on what they believed was being investigated and requested the commonwealth to have the statements presented to the grand jury for review.

Cruse and Hornback also said they were available to testify and explain the prepared statement, but the grand jury declined to hear or review the information.

KSP Trooper Jeff Gregory, spokesman for Post 4, said officials looked for Cruse and Hornback Monday afternoon and overnight to arrest them but they couldn’t be found.

Drug Enforcement Special Investigations West in Bowling Green handled the case that prompted the indictments.

An indictment is an accusation, not proof of guilt. Cruse and Hornback are innocent until proven guilty.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.