Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

January 8, 2014

Former mayor to serve 2 years

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Jan. 8, 2014 — The former mayor of Olive Hill Monday was sentenced to two years in prison in Carter Circuit Court.

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

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.

Sparks remained silent through the proceeding, but his attorney, Robin Webb, asked the court to consider probation.

“I would ask the court to consider his lack of criminal history, his years in public service,” Webb said. “I will not recite all the information that was in the rejected motion for diversion, but consider that he took full responsibility for his actions that night and he has already lost many things that are dear to him.”

Judge Rebecca Phillips, however, disagreed.

“Mr. Sparks has a lot of attributes to warrant probation,” Phillips said. “However, the nature of the position he held makes this more egregious than it usually would be. Probation is not appropriate.”

Phillips said her review of the full case file weighed heavily in her decision.

“Mr. Sparks said this was an isolated incident but that doesn't seem to be the case,” Phillips said. “When I reviewed the file there was a transcript of the tapes. There is a quote from the tape indicating that this was not an isolated offense. Mr. Sparks said 'I had to sell the bag I had and go get another one for you.'”

Sparks is scheduled to surrender to the Carter County Detention Center on Feb. 3. He will be eligible to apply for shock probation after serving 30 days.

He was 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.