Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Update

March 19, 2014

Sparks requests shock probation

March 19, 2014 — A former Olive Hill mayor serving time for selling marijuana requested shock probation in Carter Circuit Court on Monday.

Danny Sparks, 56, pleaded guilty in December to trafficking in marijuana within 1,000 yards of a school, a Class D felony.

He was sentenced to two years in prison on Jan. 6 and began serving his sentence on Feb. 3.

“The court is aware of facts of this case and the character of my client,” defense attorney Robin Webb said of Sparks on Monday. “His prior work in the community, his lack of prior criminal activity, and the fact that he handled two rounds of multi-million dollar FEMA money is a testament to his veracity.”

Webb said that Sparks is the type of individual for whom shock probation was intended.

“Mr. Sparks has had the opportunity to experience incarceration and has been a model inmate,” Webb said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Brandon Ison remained silent on the issue, in keeping with a plea agreement Sparks accepted.

“I will review all of the evidence in this case anew and review the arguments made here today,” Judge Rebecca Phillips told Sparks. “Whichever way I rule, if you have any questions, you can get back in touch with your counsel.”

State law requires the judge to rule on the motion within 10 days.

Phillips denied probation for Sparks during the sentencing phase, stating that because he held a public office at the time of his arrest, the crime became more egregious.

Phillips said that a review of the evidence in the case weighed heavily in her decision.

Sparks was arrested Nov. 28, 2012, after selling marijuana to an undercover informant working for the FADE‚ÄąDrug Task Force. The transaction took place in a parking lot near Olive Hill Elementary School, police said.

FADE said the investigation leading to Sparks’ arrest had been ongoing for several weeks.

Sparks, who had been mayor since 2000, resigned a few days later.

His brief, handwritten letter of resignation didn’t mention his arrest. Instead, it cited “present circumstances” and said resignation would be best for the city, the council and his family.

Council appointed one of its members, Kenny Fankell, to serve the remainder of Sparks’ term, which expires in December 2014.

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.

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