The lack of any prior criminal history apparently played a key role in the Kentucky Parole Board’s decision to release a former Letcher County sheriff ’s deputy from jail after serving less than one year of a five-year prison sentence.
That’s the opinion of the prosecuting attorney who worked out a plea agreement last summer with ex-Deputy Sheriff Brian Damron.
“I’m not surprised, because the large majority of people who see the parole board for the first time do make parole, especially if it isn’t a violent crime,” said Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley, who was appointed to prosecute Damron after Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks II stepped aside last year.
The Parole Board has confirmed that Damron will be released from the Harlan County Detention Center on July 1 after serving about 20 percent of a sentence imposed July 14, 2015.
Bartley points out that before Damron is freed next month he will be required to notify the parole board where he is going to live and get the board’s prior approval for that location. Damron will remain on parole for four years and must report regularly to a parole officer. If he violates the law or leaves his approved parole placement without permission, another parole board hearing would be scheduled and he could end up having to serve the rest of his prison sentence.
Damron, who was second in-command at the sheriff ’s office until October 2014, has been held in the Harlan jail since pleading guilty to six counts of receiving stolen property and one count of theft by unlawful taking after admitting that he stole four handguns and a rifle from the evidence locker in the sheriff ’s office. He also admitted to stealing more than $500 in cash from the locker.
The charges against Damron were contained in an eight-count indictment returned by the Letcher County Grand Jury after a lengthy investigation by the sheriff ’s office. Neither Sheriff Danny Webb, who fired Damron in January 2015, nor any of Webb’s deputies were aware that Damron had been granted parole until reports surfaced Monday.
“All we can say about it is that we did our jobs,” said a sheriff ’s department spokesman before declining to comment further.
Special Letcher Circuit Judge Johnny Ray Harris sentenced Damron after Damron’s attorney, Daniel Dotson of Whitesburg, and Bartley reached a plea agreement.