JAMESTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A prosecutor in south-central Kentucky has been accused by his estranged wife and a defense attorney with having an affair with and impregnating a defendant whom he prosecuted for felony drug trafficking.
In court records in a divorce case and a criminal case, Russell County Commonwealth's Attorney Matthew Leveridge is alleged to have carried on a two-month long sexual relationship with Lashley Sartain, then filing a motion to end her probation after she told his wife about the affair.
Leveridge declined to comment to the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1rmsHGR) about the allegations.
"I'll have things to say in the appropriate forums before the appropriate people," Leveridge, 41, said.
Leveridge cited a pending misdemeanor shoplifting charge as his reason for revoking Sartain's probation in the drug case. After filing the motion, Leveridge disqualified himself. Wayne County Attorney Thomas Simmons took over the case and withdrew the motion.
"I'm not gonna comment," Simmons said. "That's those people's personal lives, and I'm not going to get into it."
Leveridge's wife is suing him for divorce and sole custody of their child, alleging the affair with Sartain and other women, mental and physical abuse, and a history of bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse by her husband.
Sartain's attorney, Larry Rogers, said Leveridge was wrong to start an affair with a criminal defendant.
Sartain, who is due in October, doesn't expect fair treatment "with a five-year prison sentence still hanging over her head" until probation ends in February 2016 and Leveridge's friendships in the local justice system, Rogers said.
"If you're a prosecutor, you're not even supposed to talk to a defendant without her attorney being present, much less — well, this," Rogers said. "Universally, I think everyone would agree this is a big, big, big no-no."
Leveridge pleaded guilty in 2009 to drunken driving in Somerset and paid a $200 fine. Three years later, Attorney General Jack Conway presented him with an award as 2012's outstanding commonwealth's attorney.
Conway's office would not comment Thursday on the current allegations against Leveridge.
"If there are ethical violations, those would fall under the Kentucky Bar Association," said Conway spokesman Daniel Kemp.
The state's professional conduct rules prohibit lawyers from "commit(ing) a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects" or "engag(ing) in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com