Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 11, 2014

Former Olive Hill mayor paroled

GRAYSON — Former Olive Hill Mayor Danny Sparks, convicted last year of selling marijuana to an undercover police informant, has been released after spending a little more than four months behind bars.

Sparks was paroled on Monday and released from the Carter County Detention Center, where he had spent the entirety of his time behind bars.

Sparks was convicted last December of trafficking in marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school and began his two-year prison sentence Feb. 3.

His attorney, Robin Webb, filed a motion for shock probation — where a person is released after a brief exposure to prison conditions — on his behalf 30 days later, but Cater Circuit Judge Rebecca Phillips denied the request.

A renewed motion for shock probation was filed and brought before Phillips at a hearing last month. Included with that motion was a petition carrying the signatures of 100 Olive Hill citizens in favor of seeing Sparks released.

Phillips decided to delay a ruling on the renewed motion because Sparks was close to being eligible for parole consideration. Under state sentencing guidelines, Sparks became parole-eligible after serving 20 percent of his sentence.

“With the court desiring to consider any information concerning the action taken by the parole board; with the court having received no such information thus far; and with the court being otherwise fully and sufficiently advised, it is hereby ordered and adjudged that the defendant’s motion shall remain in abeyance pending a determination by the parole board,”  Phillips’ ruling stated.

Under the terms of his release, Sparks must regularly report to a parole officer. As a convicted felon, he cannot vote, possess a firearm or hold public office. However, his rights to vote and holding public office could be restored at a later date by order of the governor.

The parole agreement also requires that Sparks seek a substance abuse evaluation and follow all treatment recommendations.

Sparks was arrested Nov. 28, 2012, after selling marijuana to an undercover informant working for the FADE Drug 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, hand-written 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.

 

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Isaiah Caperton and Ryan Ratliff, both 12 years old, ride the Star Trooper on the midway at the Boyd County fair Tuesday. KEVIN GOLDY / THE INDEPENDENT

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