SHEPHERDSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The head of a Kentucky city department was on the job while serving time and a WAVE 3 investigation uncovered he had the help of the mayor to do so.
We started digging on accusations of negligence with Shepherdsville taxpayer money to the tune of $4 million. Questions surfaced at the Feb. 14 city council meeting after council members said they didn't know the city owned a $32,000 piece of equipment. It only resurfaced Friday.
Documents obtained by WAVE 3 show Robert Bright, Jr., the Shepherdsville capital projects superintendent, who goes by Junior Bright, bought a skid loader in 2009. Some are alleging he used that equipment for a side business over the last two years. Bright is now on medical leave, according to Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis.
"We're going to have to sit down with him and find out exactly what's going on and we're going to have to turn it over to local law enforcement and let them, let them look at it if we have to," said Ellis on Feb. 14 of the questions surrounding Bright and the skid loader purchase.
But the next day, WAVE 3 uncovered other questions about Bright and a 2009 conviction for obstruction of justice out of Harrison County, Indiana. It stems from an investigation into a house fire eight years ago at Bright's home. According to court documents obtained by WAVE 3, during the investigation, Bright's now ex-wife told investigators the couple had money problems. She also said the morning of the fire, Bright smelled like gasoline.
Arson and fraud charges were dismissed when Bright pled guilty to obstruction of justice in the case. He was sentenced to serve two years at the Harrison County Jail. While in jail, Bright's attorney filed paperwork asking for a release from jail during the day to work at his job for the City of Shepherdsville.
The motion, obtained by WAVE 3, contained a letter on City of Shepherdsville letterhead signed by then-Shepherdsville Mayor Sherman Tinnell. In the letter, Tinnell asks that Bright be allowed to keep working during a "busy season" Monday through Saturday for 12.5 hours and evenings every second and fourth Monday to attend Shepherdsville City Council meetings.
Those meetings are now consumed by trying to find out what happened to put the city $4 million in the hole and who is accountable for it.
"I can't believe that the city has personnel that they don't know how much money is in the bank account," said Gaynell Rummage, a Shepherdsville resident, who attended Monday's council meeting.
WAVE tried to contact Tinnell to ask about Bright working for the city while serving a jail sentence but there was no answer at his house.
Current Mayor Ellis said late Tuesday he was shocked at what we uncovered and told us he would meet with us Wednesday to discuss what we found.
Shepherdsville City Council President Larry Hatfield said he believes it would never be proper for a city employee to continue working while serving time.
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