Whitesburg KY

Ex-official gets probation for theft charges

Stole $18,700 for pain pills

Letcher County’s former solid waste coordinator has been sentenced to probation for five years after pleading guilty to stealing $18,700 in funds set aside to pay volunteer groups for picking roadside litter.

As part of a plea agreement reached last week, 30-year-old Josh Wampler Jr., who was also Letcher County’s PRIDE coordinator, will have to apply for admission to and successfully complete the “drug court” program administered by Letcher Circuit Court.

An order granting Wampler pretrial diversion says that if he is “not accepted into drug court for any reason (he is to be) under the maximum supervision of the Department Probation and Parole with no less than three random drug screens per month, be employed or a student a full-time basis or perform 40 hours of community service per week.” The order was handed down Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright Isom, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of theft by deception and 16 counts of possession of a forged instrument. The charges were contained in six indictments returned by a Letcher County grand jury on May 31 – 10 days after Wampler was fired from his county government job after admitting he cashed forged checks and spent the money on illegal prescription narcotics.

Wampler could have been sentenced to between one and five years in prison and fined up to $10,000 on each of the theft counts. He also could have been sentenced up to one year in prison and fined up to $1,000 for each of the forgery counts.

Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks said he agreed to recommend pre-trial diversion for Wampler “due to the lack of prior criminal history and after consultation with and the recommendation Jim Ward.”

Banks said that Ward, who was Wampler’s boss, was satisfied that Wampler’s family had repaid the stolen money and didn’t want to see him sent away to prison.

Wampler stole the money from a “litter abatement program” which pays non-profit groups $100 for each mile of roadway they clean. The program is funded by fees on landfills and collected by the Kentucky Division of Waste Management.

While nothing specific was mentioned during an hour-long hearing last week about any of the crimes Wampler committed, the indictments say the checkcashing spree began last November 14, a week after the results of the general election ensured there would be a change in county administrations. Between then and April 13, Wampler submitted 18 false claims for payments for litter collection to groups such as “AAU Basketball,” “Cub Scouts,” and “Cram Creek Church.”

The plea agreement says he illegally obtained $2,500 in November, $2,000 in December, $6,000 in January, $2,200 in February, and $3,900 in April.

Wampler was represented by attorney Richard Counts.

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