Friday, March 7, 2003

Epling-inspired bill gets House OK

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - The Kentucky House voted Thursday to create a new type of white-collar crime - abuse of public trust - in a rush to clear its decks as the 2003 General Assembly nears an end.

The bill creates the crime of abuse of public trust - a special felony for public officials who steal money. Conviction could bring 20 years in prison.

The bill was prompted by the case of Ronald Epling, the former Florence finance director accused of stealing millions from the city. Epling pleaded guilty to 35 counts of theft.

The legislation would not apply to Epling. The bill now returns to the Senate, where it originated, for a vote on changes made by the House.

In other action, the House passed and sent to Gov. Paul Patton a bill stemming from plans to destroy the nerve-gas stockpile in Madison County. The bill would require the Army to comply with all elements of an emergency response plan for the area before getting a permit to destroy the stockpile.

It would require a community liaison to work with the Army and the company chosen to destroy the stockpile.

Another bill that passed the House 49-38 would allow liquor store owners to transport alcohol from a wholesaler to their business. The bill is meant to help store owners when they run short of supplies, supporters said. The measure now goes to Patton.

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