Breathitt County judge-exec faces several charges

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JACKSON, Ky. (KT) -- The judge-executive of Breathitt County has been named in a three-count indictment, alleging theft, abuse of public trust and official misconduct.

According to the indictment returned Monday by a Breathitt County grand jury, Jeff Noble, 57, is accused of unlawfully using $704.96 in county funds to purchase lumber for his personal use.

WYMT-TV reports the Breathitt County Sheriff’s Department received a complaint about lumber theft on August 7 by the fiscal court.

"The individual talking to him asked him if it would get Judge Noble in trouble, to which Judge Noble replied, ‘No, I can write it off as if we used the lumber at the county garage,’" said Major Michael Wolfe.

Wolfe told the television station in April, a person asked Noble to buy lumber to fix a bridge on private property, and that after hearing about the investigation, Noble tried to cover his tracks.

"So it was only after our investigation revealed the wrongdoing that Mr. Noble made an attempt to return the lumber to a legitimate work site owned by the county," said Wolfe.

The lumber was hidden in a barn. It never got to a county work site, according to WYMT.

Noble's attorney, Derek Jorge Campbell, released a statement saying, "I've spent most of my life in the political realm in our region but in all my years I never thought I'd see the day that a political machine would pervert our justice system simply to beat down their political opponents."

Campbell also maintains the bridge is on county property.

If convicted, Noble faces up to five years in prison on the theft charge, a maximum one year for official misconduct, and up to five years along with removal from office on the Abuse of Public Theft charge.

Noble is on a pre-planned vacation with his family, the TV station reports, and has been advised to turn himself in. A $250,000 bond has been set.

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