April 23, 2014 — Charges against Christopher Stamper, the former manager of Rattlesnake Ridge Water District, were dropped Monday in Carter Circuit Court.
A Carter County grand jury indicted Stamper, 40, of Grayson, last September on one count of theft by unlawful taking over $10,000, a Class C felony punishable by a prison term of 5-10 years.
The indictment alleged that Stamper took 29 checks totaling $29,239.93 from the water district.
After filing a motion for continuance before the trial was scheduled to begin last week, Commonwealth's Attorney Brandon Ison dropped the charges against Stamper.
“There was not enough evidence to support the charges,” Ison said. “We asked the court to dismiss the charges without prejudice, and the case will be reexamined and possibly resubmitted to the grand jury.”
Stamper, through his attorney, Will Wilhoit, argued that the calculations made by the investigating officer were grossly in error.
In a response to the continuance motion, Wilhoit explained that although Stamper had received additional payroll checks, he did not accept them later in the year and received only his contracted salary.
“We hired an accountant to go through the audits and all of the Public Service Commission reports that Rattlesnake Ridge submitted,” Wilhoit said. “We realized then that the investigating officer had miscalculated the numbers. I feel confident that at trial he would have been acquitted because by the end of the year he only received his salary.”
Wilhoit said that when he discussed his findings with Ison and Judge Rebecca Phillips, that the charges were dropped.
“This was all done in open sight,” Wilhoit said. “This is not a case of him taking money while no one was looking. I knew Brandon Ison would do the right thing, I highly respect him, and he did by dropping the charges.”
Wilhoit said that he and his client are discussing Stamper's civil remedies against the Rattlesnake Ridge Water District and the directors at the time of his termination.
“This was at least gross negligence, if not malicious prosecution and defamation of character,” Wilhoit said.
Ison said the investigation has been reopened.
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 474-5101.