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Mayor’s removal hearing adjourns, set to begin again at 9 a.m. Thursday

Binders of exhibits sit on a table while attorneys for both sides discuss the removal hearing prior to its start Wednesday morning at the Nelson County Justice Center.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 8 p.m. — The public hearing to consider removing Mayor John Royalty from office took a break about 6:30 Tuesday evening and is set to continue 9 a.m. Thursday in District Courtroom A at the Nelson County Justice Center.

After hearing a day’s worth of testimony before hearing officer former 11th Circuit Court Judge Doughlas George of Springfield, the attorneys and city council members agreed to adjourn and continue the hearing Thursday morning.

Royalty’s attorneys, Jason Floyd and Doug Hubbard, told George they have nine witnesses who will testify Thursday.

City of Bardstown IT Supervisor Brandon Brewer testified Wednesday that Mayor John Royalty told him to lie to the city council in order to retrieve their city-issued iPads. Brewer testified the mayor wanted the iPads in order to determine the personal use of each tablet. The mayor also told him to access Councilwoman Kecia Copeland’s personal emails. The hearing continues 9 a.m. Thursday, April 12, 2017.

The first witness called to testify Wednesday was Capt. Todd Spalding with the Bardstown Fire Department. He testified that Mayor John Royalty asked him specifically to print copies of the incident reports for two fires that happened at residences occupied by Councilwoman Kecia Copeland.

Spalding’s name and the date and time were printed on those reports. He didn’t think much about Royalty’s request — until the reports surfaced in the anonymous packets that surfaced at the city council chambers doorstep one week before the Nov. 8, 2016 council election.

Brandon Brewer, an IT Supervisor at City Hall, was a key witness who testified that the mayor told him to lie to the members of the city council in order to retrieve their city-issued iPads.

Brewer testified that Royalty told him to tell the council there was an immediate security update needed on their iPads and to bring them to City Hall.

Scott Crosbie, the Lexington attorney whose firm conducted the council’s three-month investigation, explained the ruse was part of the mayor’s plan to collect the council iPads in order to check the council member’s personal use of the devices — an allegation Brewer confirmed under oath.

In addition to a review of each council member’s iPad use, Royalty also instructed Brewer to gain access to Councilwoman Kecia Copeland’s email, which contained a mix of thousands of personal and city-related emails.

Brewer testified that he showed Royalty how to review Copeland’s emails, and then selected emails he asked Brewer to print for him.

Lexington attorney Scott Crosbie takes witness testimony at Wednesday’s removal hearing.

Brewer also testified that he had serious concerns with Royalty’s requests, and that he protested and warned the mayor about invading Copeland’s privacy. The mayor ignored his protests, he said. Brewer then created a timeline of Royalty’s requests and sent an encrypted copy to his bosses in the event they needed to know what he had been asked by the mayor to do.

During cross examination, Brewer testified that when the council approved a February municipal order that placed the council in control of access to their iPads, Royalty instructed him to do something else he did not want to do.

“He told me I should make the memo so confusing that the council wouldn’t understand it,” he testified.

Brewer said he refused to follow the mayor’s directive, and he informed his supervisors, who backed his decision. The resulting memo Brewer wrote was a compromise version everyone agreed was sufficient.

Other witnesses who testified Wednesday included Bardstown businessman Ken Ables; former Councilman Francis Lydian; Bardstown City Clerk Barbie Bryant; and City Attorney Tim Butler.

After the additional witnesses testify Thursday, each side will have 15 minutes for closing arguments. At that time, the council will enter into executive session to determine if the testimony they have heard rises to a level that compels them to remove Mayor Royalty from office.

FACEBOOK LIVE. If sufficient bandwidth / data signal is available at the Nelson County Justice Center, the Nelson County Gazette will stream the proceedings on Facebook Live beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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