Hodgenville Mayor faces removal vote by city council - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hodgenville Mayor faces removal vote by city council

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HODGENVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After pleading not guilty to theft and abuse of public trust charges, Hodgenville's mayor is now fighting to keep his job.

During Monday's city council meeting, council members--along with a packed room of concerned citizens--heard from the council's attorney. Michelle Sparks, hired by the council following the indictment of Mayor Terry Cruse and clerk Madonna Hornback, presented evidence found in a Kentucky State Police investigation.

The presentation, and vote to remove the mayor, were added to the meeting agenda last week.

The removal vote was postponed after city attorney Mary Gaines Locke expressed concern over the public notification of the proceedings.

"The mayor was ready to sue them if they would have gone ahead with the hearing tonight," said Locke. "I was trying to prevent litigation."

Cruse's attorney also objected to the vote, saying that the public wasn't given adequate notification of the meeting. He also claimed his client didn't know about the proposed vote until "minutes before the meeting," and he wasn't given time to prepare a rebuttal.

Sparks showed pages of receipts and expense logs during her presentation which allegedly show Cruse and Hornback double dipping. Court documents show that on multiple occasions over an 18 month period both defendants would charge gas to city gas cards while also getting reimbursed by the city.

Surveillance video and receipts also show Cruse and Hornback's family members filling up using city cards. 

"Even though her personal vehicle is being filled up with city gas, she is being paid for driving each week every day her personal vehicle," said Sparks. "She used 35 percent of the gas of the entire city. That's more than police and fire combined."

In response to the presentation, the Mayor had only one word: "Interesting...interesting is all I can say."

The Kentucky State Police auditor found that Cruse filled up with his city gas card enough to rack up more than $10,000 in 18 months. While Hornback surpassed $20,000 in that same amount of time.

Many of the purchases happened on weekends, late at night, sometimes two or three times a day.

Cruse's attorney says he can justify each charge, and will do so during the court case.

"Once you start going through each of those things in an orderly process there is an explanation for each one of those things," said Cruse's attorney Ron Mather.

Hornback was indicted on 54 counts of abusing public trust and theft.

Cruse faces nine counts of abusing public trust, theft and a campaign finance violation.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Public hearing date is set for Thursday May 1, 2014 at 7 p.m.

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