Ballard County works to recover after federal crime by former leaders

BALLARD COUNTY, KY — Two former local county leaders will spend the next several years paying back thousands of dollars to the county they once served.

Former Ballard County Judge Executive Vickie Viniard and Former County Treasurer Belinda Foster were sentenced on Thursday in federal court.

A federal judge order Viniard to pay $1,832.76 on her own and Foster to pay $39,675.61 on her own. On top of that, they’re responsible for another $53,998.21 in joint restitution. Both women received credit for their one day of jail time. They’re now on supervised release for two years.

The county says it lost around $2.1 million. It will only get less than 10 percent of that back in restitution.

Ballard County Attorney Vicki Hayden says they received $500,000 back from insurance.

Hayden says things are starting to look up for the county.

“It’s like a weight off of the shoulders that this (case) is over with,” says Hayden.

But Hayden says the county is still dealing with the aftermath.

“We continue to find little things,” says Hayden. “Every time somebody new retires, we’ll be having to reevaluate with the Kentucky Retirement System whether the right funds were paid into their retirement. We tried to prepare in advance but it was impossible. So we’re having to do this on a case by case basis.”

Hayden says that was one of Foster’s responsibilities as county treasurer.

“I wouldn’t put that on Vickie at all,” says Hayden. “She didn’t know, and our treasurer was just paying in the wrong amounts, the wrong percentages. Not deducting it from their check when she should have.”

Hayden doesn’t know how much this will cost the county in the future, but she says she’s confident that it will cost them.

“It’s happened so far with three or four employees who have retired in the last year and a half,” says Hayden. “It’s cost us several, several thousand dollars.”

Hayden says the county had a similar problem with some employees’ insurance. She says that issue has been worked out.

“I am really hopeful for our future here,” says Hayden. “Everybody has worked really hard to get us back the way we needed to be. We are all holding each other to a higher standard.”

Back in August, Viniard pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud, and making false statements on a loan application. The charges come after she took out a $450,000 loan without asking the county’s fiscal court for permission.

In 2016, Foster pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud after FBI agents said she mismanaged the county’s money.

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