Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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January 27, 2014

Former wildlife commissioner facing multiple charges

FRANKFORT — Former Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Jonathan Gassett and three current and former department employees were charged with multiple violations of the state ethics code Monday by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Gassett, who resigned in September following an investigation by the Inspector General and the Cabinet for Tourism, Arts and Heritage, faces nine ethics charges. Most of the allegations against the other three – John Akers, Kenneth “Scott” King and Benjy Kinman – involve helping Gassett carry out the violations alleged against him, but King is also charged with telling female employees how to dress and asking one to expose her breasts.

Monday’s charges against Gassett involve the use of department facilities, equipment and employees for personal work, including pumping out a flooded crawl space or basement beneath his personal residence and work on personal property items by department employees on department time and premises.

Department employees allegedly picked up building supplies purchased by Gassett at a Lexington business and stored them on department premises for a time before removing them to Gassett’s residence.

Gassett also secured guest passes from the Kentucky State Police to the 2011 and 2012 Kentucky Derby; secured 15 prints created by a department employee for sale at a fundraiser without paying for them; used the department’s Federal Express account to have personal items delivered to his home and an alligator skin shipped to a Georgia taxidermist; stored and worked on personal items at the department’s workshop; and had department employees acquire a controlled pesticide for him and for which he was not certified.

Additionally, Gassett is alleged to have allowed a personal friend and prospective vendor to the department to attend a meeting where upgrading or purchasing communications equipment was discussed.

Gassett did not respond to a voice message left on his cellphone seeking comment and CNHI was unable to reach the other three men.

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