PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry and Deputy Judge-Executive Doug Harnice were indicted Friday on a charge of tampering with public records in connection with unauthorized zone changes in the county affecting at least 500 pieces of property, a prosecutor said.
Commonwealth's Attorney G.L. Ovey said the investigation began after officials received complaints about the zone changes. One person purchased property that was zoned as commercial but discovered it had changed to residential when he went to sell it, Ovey said.
Property was devalued in a large majority of the cases, Ovey said.
A woman in Newberry's office said neither Newberry nor Harnice was available for comment Friday afternoon. But Newberry told The Paducah Sun that they are innocent. Harnice did not comment, the newspaper said.
"The city had drawn a map, and when they did, they drew it incorrectly," Newberry said. "We asked them to correct the map and that was the end of this. I think I did what a judge-executive should do when they see something that wasn't done right, and something that costs the taxpayers money."
Newberry said the city corrected most of the map. When asked if he and Harnice corrected the rest of the map, he said "not at that time."
Arraignment on the felony charges was set for Thursday.
Last year, two McCracken County residents filed complaints saying the zoning of their properties was changed without their permission, giving the properties a lower value designation.
Ovey, a prosecutor in Caldwell, Livingston, Lyon and Trigg counties, was appointed special prosecutor by the attorney general's office after the McCracken County commonwealth's attorney stepped aside due to conflict of interest.