KSP major responds to trooper investigation

GRAVES COUNTY, KY – A Kentucky State Police trooper resigned in April after an audit caught him using state money for personal use.  Click here

KSP Maj. Jeremy Thompson

and here for prior stories. His bosses decided not to press criminal charges. Former trooper Logan Burks mailed a restitution check back to the agency and Kentucky State Police Maj. Jeremy Thompson says that should close the case.

Thompson says, “In this instance, we were the victim. He stole from the agency. He stole from Kentucky State Police. You can make the argument he stole from the taxpayers. You can make that argument all day long. But the fact remains that money was allotted to the state police.”

Thompson also questioned why we would continue our investigation into the resignation of one trooper.

A state trooper violated public trust by taking state gas money for himself. Through investigation, we found Burks charged $721.07 to his fuel card before resigning. After filing an open records request, Kentucky State Police mailed a copy of the restitution check. It’s for $352.58. Thompson had an explanation for this difference.

Former KSP trooper Logan Burks

He said the state police has an agreement with the fuel card company where, as an agency, KSP pays a discounted fuel rate. But, after repeated phone calls and multiple open records requests, no one has been able to provide me those records. State police said the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet housed those records. Twice, the cabinet told me they were unable to locate those records.

It’s important to remember $721 qualifies for felony charges. $352 is only a misdemeanor. As the investigating agency, Kentucky State Police made the decision not to charge Burks at all, allowing him to resign.

Thompson said, “This is all a part of being smarter on crime. For goodness sakes. We have people who want to legalize marijuana. I don’t hear anybody crying we’re not arresting people for marijuana, but you have a guy who pays restitution for a check, and its being turned into a near federal case three months after the fact. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

This is a list of all the law enforcement officers in the state whose licenses have been revoked since 2004. Some of the reasons listed: “embezzling,” “used debit card to steal funds,” and “theft by unlawful taking”.

When Kentucky State Police were first asked about Burks’ case, they said they decided not to press charges because he paid the money back and he would lose his career over this matter.

But Burks still has his peace officer professional standards certificate, because he was not convicted of a crime. That would allow him to get another job in law enforcement.

Thompson said, “This is something that most people who are caught doing the same thing don’t suffer the loss of a job. And quite frankly in the arena we’re in, in law enforcement, it’s going to be hard for someone who’s now resigned under these allegations to find a job in law enforcement. I can see why there would be an issue from a taxpayer perspective if we said he resigned before we got rid of him and didn’t seek the restitution.”

Again, Burks does not face charges. He resigned and paid restitution before KSP launched a criminal investigation. As for the difference in what we found and what KSP sought in restitution, they say they could not provide me with proof of their agreement with the fuel card company.

Kentucky State Police had a thief in one of their squad cars. They say former trooper Logan Burks took $352.58 in gas. KSP allowed the trooper to pay back the money and resign. They claim they did this after consulting with a prosecutor.

In multiple conversations with KSP leadership, they said they either didn’t know, or didn’t feel comfortable telling me which attorney they consulted.

Kentucky State Police regularly consults county attorneys. After contacting every prosecutor in west Kentucky, Calloway County County attorney Bryan Ernstberger said he discussed the case with KSP, but said he doesn’t know if he is the prosecutor KSP is referring to.

Ernstberger says the full case was never presented to him. He says, “I didn’t make a charging decision one way or the other at that point. I suspect it would not be me they said recommended not charging. But, I can’t say for sure. I guess I can say for sure that it wasn’t me that made such a recommendation.”

When a prosecutor makes a decision not to prosecute, they file a declination of prosecution letter. Bryan Ernstberger didn’t write one. In filing another open records request with KSP to see if a different prosecutor filed a declination of prosecution letter, their response was that no such document exists.

The concern is there is no record that Kentucky State Police consulted a prosecutor about prosecuting one of their own.

It is important to note, Ernstberger says in theft cases involving workplaces they often consult with the employers. Sometimes the employer and employee do strike a deal to avoid legal battles. That may be what happened between KSP and former trooper Logan Burks.

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