Ex-jailer gets one year, shock probation likely

Former McCracken County Jailer Tonya Ray (right) sits at her sentencing hearing in McCracken County Circuit Court with defense attorney Thomas Clay (left) and co-counsel Beth Maze. Ray was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of perjury in January.

In March 2017, Tonya Ray was sworn in as McCracken County Jailer.

Next week, barring further legal developments, she will be an inmate.

Ray was convicted of perjury in January, and a judge Thursday sentenced her to serve a year in jail.

Graves County Circuit Judge Tim Stark told Ray, “Public officials have to be held accountable,” and said a sentence of probation would “unduly depreciate the seriousness of the offense.”

But he followed that up noting the inequity that the one who committed the underlying offense didn’t serve any time in jail.

Ray’s perjury charge related to testimony she gave in late 2017 in the official misconduct case against former Deputy Jailer Ben Green.

Green eventually entered an Alford plea to official misconduct charges after an incident that involved inmate classification, but not before Ray offered the testimony that got her convicted of perjury.

The jury determined Ray lied when she testified at a hearing for Green that the jail was operating under a previous manual that didn’t contain a policy on classification.

Stark noted that, under the commonwealth’s theory of the case, it was Green, not Ray, who benefitted from the perjury.

“There’s something inequitable about her serving out a full sentence when the fellow … that benefited by it didn’t get any penalty,” the judge said.

Green received probation.

Stark said considering those factors, and that Ray had a clean criminal record, he would “look favorably” on any motion for shock probation filed by the defense.

Ray would be eligible for shock probation 30 days after incarceration.

But her attorney, Thomas Clay, expressed dissatisfaction after the hearing.

He said he requested, and was granted, a delayed reporting date for Ray because her team is strongly considering an appeal.

“The judge wanted her to have this time to consider her options,” he said.

“Obviously we would have preferred to be outright probated. The judge, I know, gave this a great deal of thought.”

Special prosecutor Rick Bolling, the commonwealth’s attorney for Christian County, said he believed Stark’s opinion was fair.

“Public officials, yes, have to be held to a standard. When … you’re under oath, it’s important that you tell the truth,” Boling said.

He added he believed shock probation would be “appropriate if she accepts responsibility.”

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