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Top officials face criminal charges

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By Jessica Singleton

The Owen County grand jury met yesterday and heard evidence into the conduct of the Owen County government. They handed down charges against former Deputy Judge-Executive Renaee Gaines, Judge-Executive Billy O’Banion and Treasurer Gayla Lewis.

Commonwealth Attorney Jim Crawford recommended the court issue a criminal summons for all three to be present at the Oct. 7 district court meeting.

The charges against former Deputy Judge-Executive Renaee Gaines are: two counts of theft by unlawful taking with a value of three hundred dollars or more, a class “D” felony, that took place between July 1, 2006, and April 1, 2008; two counts of first-degree official misconduct, a class “A” misdemeanor; and complicity to theft of services, a class “D” felony.

According to the indictment: she unlawfully took $16,959.75 from Owen County; she aided, assisted, counseled, conspired with or attempted to aid William O’Banion to unlawfully take $3,301.96 on two occasions, allegedly as training incentive monies; and she aided, assisted, counseled, conspired with or attempted to aid William O’Banion to write-off, waive or discharge the balance of his ambulance bill of $632.20.

The charges against Judge-Executive Billy O’Banion are: theft by unlawful taking with a value of three hundred dollars or more, a class “D” felony, that took place between July 1, 2006, and April 1, 2008; one charge of first-degree official misconduct, a class “A” misdemeanor; one charge of theft of services, a class “D” felony; and one charge of official misconduct, a class “A” misdemeanor.

According to the indictment: on Oct. 27, 2006, he unlawfully took $3,301.96, allegedly as training incentive monies and on Oct. 22 2007, he unlawfully took $3,301.96, allegedly as training incentive monies; he intentionally obtained ambulance services with a value of $1,191.50 of which his medical insurance paid $559.30 leaving a balance for him to have paid of $632.20 which he wrote-off, waived or discharged; and on or between the dates of Oct. 1 2007, and July 31, 2008, he authorized the write-off, waiver or discharge of various ambulance bills owed by individuals to Owen County for ambulance services provided by the Owen County Ambulance Service.

The charges against Gayla Lewis are: one charge of complicity to theft by unlawful taking, a class “D” felony; and two charges of official misconduct, a class “A” misdemeanor.

According to the indictment: on or about Oct. 27, 2006, and Oct. 22, 2207, she aided or assisted, counseled, conspired with or attempted to aid William O’Banion to unlawfully take $3,301.96, respectively, allegedly as training incentive monies; she aided or assisted, counseled, conspired with or attempted to aid William O’Banion to write-off, waive or discharge various ambulance bills owed by individuals to Owen County for ambulance services provided by the Owen County Ambulance Service.

A class “D” felony carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000. A class “A” misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and a $500 fine.