Local judge, county attorney weigh in on lack of charges against former trooper

We heard from many of you about our story from Monday uncovering that a former Kentucky State Police trooper won’t be charged after using state funds for personal costs.

In our investigation, we learned former trooper Logan Burks spent $721 in state-issued gas money for personal use, and Kentucky State Police confirmed that. Burks resigned and paid restitution, although we don’t know how much the restitution was.

We tried to answer questions you posed on Facebook. Julie Stubblefield asked: “$721? Seriously this is big news?” I spoke to McCracken County Attorney Sam Clymer. He said $721 is big news, because not prosecuting Burks sets a dangerous precedent. The county attorney has not officially reviewed the case, but he told me based on my investigation, it’s a case that gives him pause.

“$721 is huge, particularly given the circumstances we’re dealing with," the county attorney said. "I wouldn’t care if he stole $20. He’s going to be prosecuted by me, by this office.”

The county attorney told me if the case were to come before his desk, he would have consulted the attorney general’s office, because it involves the Kentucky State Police. He said he would want impartial eyes.

I also wanted to answer viewer Ron Welch’s comment. He said: “The guy has lost his job, and his reputation, he paid it back, I agree with the decision to drop it.”

KSP Lt. Michael Webb told me Monday part of the reason they presented the options for Burks’ to pay restitution and resign was that it would be too costly to advance through the court system, and Burks has already lost his career.

McCracken County Circuit Court Judge Craig Clymer disagreed with both those points. He questions the cost of justice, and said not bringing charges could cost the public’s trust in the system.

“If you want to talk about economics and dollars, what did it cost the state to send the trooper to school for 22 weeks? They didn’t get a thing out of him for 22 weeks. What’s that cost? They’re paying him a salary and getting nothing for it except training him. He’s been on the road two years. Gosh, so we’re going to say you pay back the $700 and we’ll call it even when they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to train him and there’s no requirement he pay that back?” the judge asked.

The judge also said the loss of a career shouldn’t be considered collateral when it’s not collateral in other cases.

The last question I wanted to answer was: Should a law enforcement officer be held to a higher standard? Marlene Devine says: “As a law enforcement officer he took an oath to uphold the law…It’s a shame that people are jumping to defend him.”

The judge has a long resume, part of which includes 10 years of law enforcement experience with Paducah police. The judge and the county attorney each said Burks’ position shouldn’t have exempted him from the law.

“These circumstances, we’re dealing with the person who’s a professional law enforcement officer who serves his community as part of the highly trained and elite law enforcement in commonwealth of Kentucky," the county attorney said. "He knows better, and he shouldn’t be held to a higher standard. He should be held to the highest standard.”

The judge said: “I represent this court. He represents the state police. That’s a pretty big burden…it just smells bad all the way around.”

KSP told me it did consult a local prosecutor about pressing charges. I do not know who that prosecutor is, but I’m working to find out. But the judge reminded me that it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to bring charges.

As to whether charges can ever be brought against Burks, the commonwealth attorney told me there is no statute of limitations on felony charges, and we found out those charges do qualify as felonies.

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