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Newberry, Harnice face trial

BY ANDREA MOORE amoore@paducahsun.com

The plea offer extended by a special prosecutor to McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry and Deputy Judge-Executive Doug Harnice has been withdrawn.

Newberry and Harnice did not accept any offer when they appeared before Special Judge Dennis Foust in McCracken Circuit Court Wednesday for a third pretrial conference related to charges that they tampered with public records.

"Today was the day to accept the offers," Special Prosecutor G.L. Ovey said.  "At this point, those offers are withdrawn and, minus any unforeseen circumstances, we will be going to trial on Jan. 6."

On May 30, Ovey gave Will Kautz, attorney for Newberry, and David Bundrick, attorney for Harnice, up to 30 days to consider a plea deal.  

"All good lawyers explore settling a case without a trial," Kautz said.  "The problem in this case is that Judge Newberry has done nothing wrong.

"When representing someone that has done nothing wrong, there is not much room for compromise," Kautz continued.  "The offer that was extended would have Judge Newberry admitting to something, and he is guilty of nothing."   

Newberry and Harnice are accused of altering the county's zoning maps without following proper procedures.  An investigation allegedly found hundreds of property lines that were changed between 2007 and 2008 without approval from the McCracken Fiscal Court.

Newberry, who has changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Independent, filed his intention to run in November's judge-executive election on April 1. Formal filings for Kentucky's Independent candidates are due by Aug. 12, accompanied by a petition of nomination with 100 verified signatures.

Contact Andrea Moore, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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