United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman today announced the sentencing of the former Ballard County Judge Executive and Ballard County Treasurer, in United States District Court, by Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell, for their individual roles in bank fraud.
“When public officials break the law, this diminishes the public’s confidence in our government and the rule of law itself;” stated United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman. “Our office and our law enforcement partners will hold elected officials accountable; be it for defrauding banks or the very resources of the people they were elected to represent. Vigorous investigation and ultimate federal prosecution of public officials in the Western District of Kentucky, who use their positions to steal from the public; should keep corrupt officials up at night.”
Vickie Louise Viniard; the former Ballard County Judge Executive was sentenced to time served and a 2-year period of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $1,832.76 individually and $53,998.21 jointly and severely with co-defendant Belinda Foster for bank fraud; wire fraud and making false statements on a loan application. Foster, the former Ballard County Treasurer; was also sentenced to time served and a 2-year period of supervised release and ordered to pay $93,673.82 in restitution, of which $53,998.21 will be jointly and severally liable with Viniard. Foster pleaded guilty to bank fraud, wire fraud, and receiving fraudulent medical reimbursement payments. Neither Viniard nor Foster had any history of criminal activity but both now stand convicted of felony offenses involving public corruption.
According to information presented in court, Viniard; while serving as Ballard County Judge Executive; applied for and received a series of five unauthorized loans, totaling over $1 million; on behalf of Ballard County during a two-year period between June of 2012 and June of 2014.
Some explanations presented in court
At the time of the loans, Ballard County suffered from cash shortages and this prompted Viniard’s scheme, which was to obtain short-term loans in order to fund Ballard County operations and make payments on bond obligations without seeking approval of the loans from the Ballard County Fiscal Court or informing the Kentucky Department of Local Government, both of which she was required to do under Kentucky state law. Even though Viniard did not personally benefit from any of these loans and all loan proceeds were used for Ballard County expenditures; Viniard lied to the bank’s loan officer by claiming she had authority to obtain the loans, which she knew she did not have. Viniard also intentionally concealed these loans from the Ballard County Fiscal Court for over two years and never notified the Kentucky Department of Local Government about any of the loans.
Co-defendant Belinda Janean Foster, the former Ballard County Treasurer, also deceived the Ballard County Fiscal Court about the loans by assisting Viniard in intentionally concealing the existence of the loans and even acting as a co-signor on some of the loans. Foster, at the direction of Viniard, never reported the loans to the Fiscal Court or the Kentucky Department of Local Government and intentionally labeled $350,000 from the loans as “payroll tax” instead of accounting for the income as loan proceeds. In addition to the fraudulent loans, Foster regularly wrote herself checks for fraudulent medical reimbursement payments totaling over $27,000.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nute Bonner and was investigated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).