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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Did Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin commit fraud and deceit? Or is she just guilty of sloppy bookkeeping? That is a key question at the trial that could remove her from office.
Shanklin is accused of using her office not for the public good, but to benefit herself, her friends and her family. A court of her fellow council members is deciding whether she stays or goes.
The fireworks began early in the trial, when Shanklin's attorney, Aubrey Williams, tried once again, to have the charges dismissed.
"I'm trying to get clarity on what it is that she is charged with, and what it is I'm defending against," he argued.
But Council President Jim King denied Williams' motion, saying: it's time to move on.
"Mr. Williams, the question's been asked and answered. I would now ask you to take your seat so we can proceed with opening statements from Mr. Tachau," King said.
"You're ordering me to take my seat?" asked Williams.
"Yes," replied King.
During opening statements, Prosecutor David Tachau told the 20-member Council Court that he'll produce evidence that Shanklin misused used tax dollars; that she diverted funds designated for a program to help ex-offenders, and money from the Petersburg-Newburg Neighborhood Association, which she chaired, for her personal benefit.
Tachau argued that these were not simple mistakes and oversights by Shanklin.
"This hearing involves persistent, repeated violations of disclosure obligations. About conflicts of interest and personal control over taxpayer funds. And what has been persistent, intentional deception by Dr. Shanklin and others at her direction," argued Tachau.
But Williams calls the charges garbage and lies, pointing out that criminal charges have never been filed against Shanklin. He said she is only guilty of trying to help her community.
"That's why they're known as grassroots people. They may not keep perfect records. They may not be very efficient. They may be sloppy. They may make mistakes. But they're trying to uplift," argued Williams.
The trial is expected to continue into next week. It would take a two-thirds vote by the Council Court to remove Shanklin.