CINCINNATI – A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Knott County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson and three other men found guilty in 2008 of using public funds to influence a county election.
Thompson, along with John Mac Combs, Phillip Champion and Ronnie Adams, was convicted by a federal grand jury in Pike County, in part, on allegations that he had directed county blacktop and gravel be applied to private drives in exchange for votes in the months leading up to the 2006 general election, during which Thompson became the first ever Republican elected to the county judge’s office in Knott County.
Thompson was sentenced in U.S. District Court in 2009 to serve 40 months in prison, but remained free as he and his co-defendants appealed their convictions to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. John Mac Combs, a former deputy judge-executive, was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison, while Adams, a former magistrate, received a sentence of 32 months. Champion’s sentence called for a maximum of 18 months to serve.
According to a 39-page opinion released on Tuesday, the court of appeals noted that there was no reason to toss out the convictions and grant new trials.
“Based on the foregoing review of the record, we find no error in the district court’s decisions,” the ruling stated. “For this reason, the defendant’s convictions and sentences are affirmed.”
In the decision the court also noted Knott County’s recent political history, labeling Knott County as “a county with a history of political and electoral corruption.”
Judge Thompson is the second consecutive judge-executive from Knott County convicted in federal court. He is currently serving his second full term in office, as he was re-elected in 2010 while on appeal. He first took office in 2005 upon appointment from former Gov. Ernie Fletcher.