City Council to hold special session

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By Linda Ireland

 Hodgenville City Council will meet 7 p.m. Thursday, May 1, at City Hall, in a special session in an effort to oust Mayor Terry Cruse.

The Council placed notice of the hearing in last week’s Herald News, listing specific allegations “rising to misconduct and willful neglect in the performance of the duties of his office ....” He is accused of dealing with public money “as his own,” accepting unauthorized compensation, violation of the City’s code of ethics, and failing to protect the City of Hodgenville “by allowing an appointed officer, the City Clerk, who is charged with maintaining the public funds, to remain in office and in control of said accounting when indicted on charges of abuse of public trust and theft.”

The Council heard a report last month from its attorney, Michelle Sparks, that led to a motion to take a vote to remove Cruse. After hearing discussions between the attorneys, the Council voted to postpone the vote and hearing until May 1.

According to state law, it takes a unanimous vote by the council to remove the mayor from office.

The alleged violations of the city’s code are handled separately from the criminal case.

Mayor Cruse and City Clerk MaDonna Hornback were charged with numerous criminal counts involving the alleged misuse of the city’s gas card following an investigation by Kentucky State Police. Store employees brought the accusations to the attention of City Council.

The felony case is proceeding through LaRue Circuit Court. Hornback and Cruse have pleaded not guilty.

In his latest motion, Ron Mather, the attorney for Cruse and Hornback, asked for “true and correct copies of actual tapes” of gas purchases for the dates set out in the indictments; a copy of the privacy manual or booklet regarding disclosures of customer purchase information; and a copy of the personnel file of the former store manager.

Circuit Judge Charles Simms III ordered that Mather be provided copies of the tapes but denied the other motions as the state did not have them – and the employees willingly had provided the information to investigators.