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Several concerned citizens came to the Oct. 14 Owen County Fiscal Court meeting looking for answers and explanations regarding the charges brought by an Owen County grand jury against three local officials.
Last month, former Owen County Deputy Judge-Executive Renaee Gaines, Owen County Judge-Executive Billy O’Banion and Owen County Treasurer Gayla Lewis were indicted for allegedly misappropriating money and charges of official misconduct.
Local attorney Gerald Kemper said the Owen County Code of Ethics Committee should take up the matter.
“I would like to see ethics charges made by the fiscal court,” Kemper said. “If the fiscal court does not do it, I feel sure the public will pursue it.”
The Owen County Code of Ethics Committee, established in 1997, is currently made up of Scott Cammack, Lee Ann Gamm and Steve Wright.
“The code of ethics relates more to business contracts with the county, using influence to get votes from the fiscal court,” Owen County Attorney Charles Carter said. “The (committee) can order cease and desist, but the severity is nothing compared to criminal law.”
If the fiscal court opts to pursue the ethics charges, it will be done by filing a written report.
Joel Clark, a citizen of district three, stood before the fiscal court and asked for O’Banion’s resignation.
“In the interest of Owen County, (O’Banion) needs to step aside,” Clark said.
Because he believes the allegations have harmed the community’s reputation, Clark wants to see O’Banion step aside.
“I simply thought (O’Banion) should be aware that some of the citizenry do not want him in office anymore,” Clark said. “We need to restore Owen County’s reputation.”
But the calls for O’Banion to remove himself from office did not only come from the public. A member of the court also called on the judge-executive to step down.
Magistrate Teresa Davis, who represents Owen County’s third district, also called for O’Banion to step down.
“I had received several phone calls and people coming up to me and saying that this is what they wanted,” Davis said. “As a magistrate, being the people’s voice is my job. I did what I felt was necessary.”
Despite the calls, O’Banion said during the meeting that he “will not offer his resignation.”
O’Banion declined further comment Monday afternoon.