Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 4, 2013

Former mayor pleads guilty

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Dec. 4, 2013 — The former mayor of Olive Hill on Monday changed his plea to guilty in Carter Circuit Court.

Danny Sparks, 56, pleaded guilty to trafficking in marijuana within 1,000 yards of a school, a Class D felony that carries a one-to-five-year prison sentence.

Under the terms of Sparks’ plea agreement, Commonwealth's Attorney Brandon Ison agreed to recommend Sparks be sentenced to two years, and to “stand silent” on the issue of whether Sparks should receive probation.

In the event that the court agrees to the conditions of the agreement, Sparks will be sentenced on Jan. 6 at 10:30 a.m.

However, if the court does not agree to the terms, Sparks could withdraw the guilty plea.

During the proceedings, Judge Rebecca Phillips said the felony conviction “comes with consequences.”

Being a convicted felon also will render Sparks ineligible to run for public office again. Also, if he were to be charged with another trafficking charge, the punishment would be more severe.

Phillips also reminded Sparks that the Commonwealth's Attorney had agreed to stand silent on the issue of probation, not to recommend it.

If Phillips deems probation to be inappropriate, Sparks will be unable to withdraw the plea.

Sparks will remain free on bond until his sentencing.

He 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.

Following his arrest, Sparks wrote a resignation letter in which he said he’d made a bad mistake and failed the city of Olive Hill and its people. However, that letter was never submitted to City Council.

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.