Two former Ky. county officials sentenced on federal fraud charges

Published 10:30 am Monday, October 16, 2023

Two former elected county officials have been sentenced to prison on federal fraud charges in separate cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky announced on Friday.

Former Greenup County Sheriff, Keith Cooper, 70, was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison at U.S. District Court in Frankfort, for one count of mail fraud and one count of federal program fraud.

According to his court documents, Cooper was the Greenup County Sheriff for approximately 20 years, until retiring in December 2018. His position gave him access to funds the Sheriff’s Office seized from drug trafficking investigations, including a bank account designed to hold those proceeds.

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Over a four-year period, Cooper made numerous unauthorized cash withdrawals and unlawfully retained proceeds from drug trafficking investigations instead of depositing them into the account. Cooper wrongfully took $58,230 in proceeds, which included $46,100 in unexplained cash withdrawals from the bank account and $12,130 in forfeited proceeds that should have been deposited. Cooper also wrongfully took $29,458.87 in ammunition paid for with Sheriff’s Office funding and wrongfully used county funds to pay for $1,837.26 in fuel used during his personal trips in 2018.

Upon his release, Cooper will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years. He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Former Bourbon County Magistrate Randall Taulbee, 59, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison at U.S District Court in Lexington, after previously pleading guilty to two counts of conspiring to defraud the United States, by committing crop insurance fraud.

According to his plea agreement, Taulbee, who was in office from 2018 until he resigned earlier this year, owned and rented farmland in Bourbon and Nicholas Counties, where he produced tobacco and corn that he began to insure through federal crop insurance in 2009 and 2013 respectively.

Beginning in at least March 2013 and through November 2017, Taulbee admitted to working with two others to falsify crop insurance policies and claims of loss.

His scheme included overreporting his acreage, falsely submitting records from a farm supply store, failing to report crop sales on his insurance claims of loss and submitting false claims of loss documentation on private Crop Hail crop insurance policies.

Upon his release, Taulbee will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years. He was also ordered to pay $718,784 in restitution.