Council removes Hodgenville mayor from office
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Hodgenville City Council removed Mayor Terry Cruse from office Thursday night after a day-long examiniation of alleged ethics violations that include theft of taxpayer dollars.
The unanimous vote removed Cruse from office immediately. Council members chose Kenny DeVore, also a council member, to serve as interim mayor for the remainder of Cruse's term, through December 31. DeVore took office immediately.
Council members reached their decision to force Cruse from office after "about an hour-and-a-half's" deliberation in closed session Thursday night, said council member Jim Phelps.
"It was pretty calm. Everything went smooth," Phelps said. He noted that Cruse was present for the vote and showed little reaction.
The council's deliberation came after a hearing that started at 9 a.m., in which attorneys for the council and Cruse reviewed various allegations against the mayor.
Cruse sat side by side with his lawyer. The city council members sat in the jury box at city hall.
Cruse was essentially on trial for possibly breaking city ordinances -- allegations that came to light in documents collected during a Kentucky State Police investigation.
That investigation also resulted in 13 criminal charges against Cruse and 55 charges against city clerk Madonna Hornback, mostly stemming from the alleged use of city money to fill up their personal vehicles.
Cruse and Hornback have pleaded not guilty in their respective criminal cases and await further hearings and trials.
"There are two different issues here. The criminal case we'll let the county attorney's office handle that. What we're dealing with is the ordinance violations and nepotism violations," Phelps said.
Documents show both Hornback and Cruse helped their sons get jobs with city in a possible violation of city code.
Police chief Steve Johnson testified that Hornback's son worked as a confidential informant, and occasionally was paid in gas. It is something Cruse's lawyer hopes could partially explain why family members were also filling up on the gas card -- but something that remains a violation, WDRB's Courtney Godfrey reported Thursday.
"The mayor asked me if that would be okay to do, and I said that was fine," Johnson said.
Also brought to light by council attorney Michelle Sparks were allegations that Cruse was seen shredding documents in the middle of the night.
"I have no knowledge of it. I didn't see any," Johnson said.
DeVore's council seat becomes vacant and will be filled with an interim appointment from the council within 30 days. Voters will choose from mayoral candidates in a non-partisan election in November, Phelps said.
WDRB News was not able to speak with DeVore or Cruse for comment late Thursday.
"We'll start out fresh, and Kenny will take over," Phelps said. "It will be a new chapter, and we're going to get things straightened out. We're going to do it anew."
Cruse is running for the Democratic nomination for LaRue County sheriff in Tuesday's primary election.
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