Harlan Magistrate Arrested On Two Felony Charges

Harlan County District 5 Magistrate and businessman James F. Howard was arrested Friday evening on two Class-D felonies by detectives from the Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement/Special Investigations on charges for misuse of confidential information and abuse of public trust, less than $10,000.

A copy of the official criminal complaint (warrant) from the Harlan Circuit Clerk’s Office said, “While serving as chairman of the Industrial Development Authority, the above named individual, while exercising the function of a public officer of the Harlan County IDA accepted or agreed to accept a pecuniary interest by issuing checks to L.P. Energy (a company in which James Howard is a major stock holder, corporate officer and managing member).”

The complaint states five separate checks checks from the IDA were issued to L.P. Energy between Jan. 12, 2009 and June 11, 2010 totaling $5,941.33.

The clerk’s office said Howard posted a $20,000 bond ($10,000 for each of the two counts) on Friday, a short time after being taken into custody.

The current chairman of the Harlan County IDA, Harry Gibson said the IDA wasn’t issuing any statements at the moment and all inquiries were being sent to the KSP.

Howard wasn’t immediately available for comment on Monday morning.

The arresting officer was Kentucky State Police DE/SI East Investigator Det. Jim T. Whitaker III.

According to the state police, the arrest came after a lengthy investigation and more arrests stemming from this investigation are possible.


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