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Following a flurry of rumors, Spencer County Sheriff Donald “Buddy” Stump has opted to speak publicly in response to accusations that he knowingly returned guns to two convicted felons.
However, the question remains if the two individuals who received the firearms — a Taylorsville man and woman whose cases are not associated — actually are convicted felons. Local searches at the Spencer County Circuit Clerk’s office, as well as in Kentucky’s electronic criminal database file, have revealed no felony convictions within the last 26 years in Kentucky for either individual in question. Those searches do not include out-of-state court records, which are not available at local government offices.
Spencer Magnet reporters for months have been following news tips that Stump returned at least one firearm to a Taylorsville woman who was a convicted felon. Stump said Monday afternoon that two instances of the sheriff’s office returning firearms following judges orders are in question.
Family Court Judge John David Myles signed court documents on March 7, 2011 and May 2, 2011, ordering the sheriff’s office to release firearms to two Taylorsville residents. Those calling for Stump to be charged are claiming that the two individuals are felons. A felon possessing a firearm is forbidden under Kentucky Revised Statute 527.040(2) which states: “Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a Class D felony unless the firearm possessed is a handgun in which case it is a Class C felony.”
However, Stump maintains that he did nothing wrong and followed specific court orders from Myles to return the firearms, claiming that he had no other option but to do so. In the case involving the Taylorsville woman, Stump claims the woman repeatedly asked for the gun to be returned, to which he replied that she would have to provide a court order.
“Yes, it did happen,” Stump said of returning the guns. “Yes, it was a court order. I have to abide by court orders.”
The Magnet obtained both court records, which show Myles’ signature on each, noting that the firearms be returned. Calls and emails to Myles were not returned as of press time Tuesday.
Stump said in both cases he was unaware that the individuals who received the firearms from the sheriff’s department’s evidence room were alleged convicted felons. He maintained that it is illegal to check a person’s criminal history unless law enforcement is working an active case involving the individual in question or for employment purposes.
“I had no authority and no means to run a criminal history. Sure, I would have went to confront the judge (if I had known). He’s the man sitting in the black robe that knows it all,” Stump said.
Numerous calls to the Louisville division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — the agency investigating the claims — revealed little. The agency would not comment on the nature of the investigation or reveal any details about it.
“I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation,” said ATFE public information agent George Huffman. “I don’t want to even speculate as to when the investigation might conclude.”
Inquiries with the federal court’s Western District found that Stump has not been indicted by a grand jury there, where many of the area’s federal criminal cases are heard.
“As far as an investigation, this offer never confirms or denies (if) a person is being investigated,” wrote Stephanie Collins, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Western District.
A further search of federal court records across the country by Spencer Magnet reporters revealed there are no active or inactive cases in federal court involving Stump.
Stump acknowledged that a federal ATFE agent visited his office in August 2011 inquiring about the case involving the Taylorsville woman. Stump said rumors that he has been charged, indicted, arrested, jailed and entered an Alford plea, are erroneous and that he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to hide.
“They haven’t called and told me anything,” Stump said of the ATFE investigation, noting he has not been contacted by federal agents since the initial inquiry. “It’s been almost a year ago.”
Stump said he believed the rumors regarding the cases were politically motivated.
“On the record, I’ll tell you that I think it’s politically motivated. They’re just constantly churning the waters. They need to get over it. The election happened in 2010,” Stump said.
The Spencer Magnet is continuing to follow the allegations and the open investigation. More information will be released as it becomes available.