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A reported burglary at the LaRue County Fairgrounds over the weekend has led to the recovery of numerous items belonging to the City of Hodgenville.
LaRue County Fair Board President – and ousted mayor of Hodgenville - Terry Cruse reported that several items were taken from buildings at the fairgrounds either late Saturday or early Sunday, according to Police Chief Steve Johnson. One of the items was a Scag riding lawnmower owned by the City.
Apparently, locks to both of the fairgrounds’ gates were cut by the perpetrator.
On Tuesday evening, Cruse was injured in a fall. Johnson said Cruse fell from a ladder and injured his neck. He is reportedly undergoing treatment in a Louisville hospital.
In the course of the burglary investigation, city officials gained permission from other fair board members to examine the buildings. Inside, they found several items owned by the city including another riding lawnmower, weed trimmer, police radar gun, a box grader (tractor attachment) and a popcorn machine.
Inside the office building at the fairgrounds, they found empty binders that appeared to have contained city documents, documents about the Lincoln as a Boy statue and several American flag buntings. City workers said they had looked for the buntings to decorate for the July 4 holiday, but had been unable to find them.
Cruse often sent city employees to the fairgrounds to work during his tenure. Interim mayor Kenny DeVore said he had asked Cruse a couple of months ago to return any items belonging to the City.
Cruse was named fair board president last October. He was ousted as mayor in May after City Council heard evidence of ethics violations, nepotism and unauthorized raises. He is also under criminal indictment on several counts of abuse of public trust.
UPDATE: Statement from Terry Cruse's attorney
F. Todd Lewis, attorney for Terry Cruse, supplied the following statement on behalf of his client:
The only thing to really talk about is the fact that members of the political opposition to Mr. Cruse continue to stage theatrics which have nothing to do with reality or the course of justice before the court. The fact is, Terry has never told the city that they could not come to get property they were claiming at the fairgrounds. In fact, as early as July 3d of this year, Terry and Madonna had directed their former attorney to send a letter inviting the city to do so.
Instead, on the day that Terry suffers what may be a life-changing injury and is taken to a trauma hospital for emergency surgery, certain members of his political opposition seize the opportunity to stage a pretend “raid” on the fairgrounds, some of them knowing all along that they were not being barred from this property, and knowing that the man can not even raise his head to respond, let alone be physically present. The timing of these activities speaks for itself, and speaks very poorly to the motives of some involved.
Incidentally, the actual ownership of several of the items seems to be up in the air, and perhaps will never be clearly settled, probably because there was such a regular course of using and loaning them between the various public entities in Hodgenville and LaRue County over the years. So, the issue of who owns or properly possesses what has never been a real one anyway. Most all of the items now being claimed were in plain view and even being used in the open. One does not mow the grass on public grounds, in daylight, on a weekday, in full view of every citizen and official of Hodgenville, with a mower that is somehow being kept or taken unlawfully.
Let me finally say that all the participants in the pending case involving Mr. Cruse and MaDonna Hornback — the prosecutors, the judge, the attorneys for the defendant, the circuit clerk handling the court record—are all clearly working very hard and in good faith to ensure that a fair and orderly trial is carried out in that case, according to the rule of law. That’s all that Terry and Madonna have ever asked for. In my own opinion, these kinds of activities, at least when carried out in this manner, are not contributing well to that effort at all.
Watch next week’s Herald News for updates on this story.