Former Bardstown mayor signs agreement to avoid jail time

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Bardstown Mayor John Royalty will likely avoid jail time after being criminally charged with abusing his power and violating privacy laws while in office.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Royalty’s criminal case will be delayed for five years and dismissed if the following conditions are met:

  • Cannot violate any law
  • Cannot run for public for five years
  • Agrees to dismissal of civil suits
  • Agrees to waive statute of limitations claims if the prosecution decides that conditions of the agreement were not met.

The agreement, which comes after mediation with a third-party judge, would also allow Royalty to get the case expunged from his record. 

The former mayor was charged with perjury after investigators say he lied while under oath during a hearing aimed at removing him from office. He was also charged with official misconduct after being accused of ordering a city employee to access councilwoman Kecia Copeland’s private emails.

In April 2017, Bardstown City Council voted Royalty out of office during a multi-day tribunal. Several months before, city council hired a private investigator to look into claims that Royalty abused his power as mayor.

The investigation found that Royalty had orchestrated a scheme to disburse damaging information about Copeland. A packet containing information about fire reports and emails belonging to Copeland showed up on the steps of City Hall just days before an election in November 2016.

Royalty also filed two separate lawsuits; one against the city and one against individual council members. As part of the deferment agreement, Royalty agreed to drop those. Court records show one of the two lawsuits has been dismissed. 

“I think he just wanted to put it behind him and move on and not have to worry about facing a trial where his liberty could be at stake,” said Royalty’s attorney Thomas Clay.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. 

Reach reporter Travis Ragsdale at 502-585-0817,, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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