Police begin criminal probe into Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Police begin criminal probe into Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police are launching a criminal investigation into Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin.

LMPD's Public Integrity Unit is looking into how Shanklin handled city money in her role as councilwoman. Questions have been raised about how she controlled the purse strings. An ethics complaints accuses Shanklin of using her position to help her family.

News of the criminal probe comes one day before the city's ethics commission is set to meet. A motion regarding Shanklin is before the commission for Thursday's hearing.

City financial records show an upholstery program that used tax money benefited Shanklin and her family.  She also came under fire for hiring her grandson, Gary Bohler, who continued to receive city pay even while he was in jail. Bohler was later fired.

Recently, a city audit revealed "a potential conflict of interest may exist involving the grant to the Petersburg Newburg Improvement Association and Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin."

A WDRB News reporter tried to reach Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin at her home - but no one answered.

Her attorney Aubrey Williams says she's done nothing wrong.

"I have every confidence that in my client's handling of her official affairs .. and I feel that she will be exonerated. She has nothing to fear," said Wiliams.

A recent city audit of the Neighborhood Development Funds found that Shanklin signed "113 checks on behalf of the grantee totalling $29,600."

Councilwoman Shanklin made it clear she was on the association's board on the grant application - but the city audit showed her name was not on the paperwork when fellow council members approved the money.

"I feel as a citizen and speaking as a citizen, it questions the faith of the integrity in our government system," said Yvonne Woods, a political opponent of Shanklin, who lost to the councilwoman during the May Democratic primary.

Earlier this month, WDRB News reported that LMPD had been working with the city auditor regarding Shanklin.  As portions of a city audit were completed, the auditor was sharing that information with police, according to Alicia Smiley, an LMPD spokeswoman.

Besides the upholstery program, she had come under criticism because of her grandson, Gary Bohler, who had been on the city's payroll as her legislative aide, despite a lengthy rap sheet and outstanding criminal warrants.  Shanklin later fired him

Earlier, Shanklin told WDRB News she welcomed the investigation and had no problem with police looking into the matter.

Invoices obtained by WDRB News showed more than $30,000 in tax money was spent on the upholstery program that Shanklin says was later changed for more public use.  "No one from my family benefited from this program," said Shanklin.

But she admitted her friends and relatives took part in the class, which she claimed was more for public use than training ex-cons. Shanklin also said she never told her fellow Metro Council members about the change in the program's focus.

"It never came back up in Metro Council so in the budget, it just rolled over," Shanklin said.

Copyright 2012 WDRB News.  All Rights Reserved.

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