Joe Burchett

Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett | File

CATLETTSBURG Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury on a charge of malfeasance or neglect of county officer.

According to the indictment, Burchett unlawfully and knowingly committed the misdemeanor crime by willfully neglecting the discharge of his official duties as a public officer between March 1, 2017 and Feb. 18, 2018.

Boyd Commonwealth’s Attorney Rhonda Copley provided no comment when reached by The Daily Independent.

Burchett was reached by phone but did not comment. Burchett’s attorney, Scott White of Lexington, said he and his client are confident they can prove Burchett's innocence.

"An indictment is not the same thing as a finding of guilt. It is important that people, particularly people that could possibly be a juror, keep an open mind about this until they hear the whole case," said White.

The attorney said he and Burchett are "very seriously considering" making a motion to appoint a special prosecutor, given "the nature of the investigation and that there were many public comments made by not only members of the Boyd County Fiscal Court but the Commonwealth attorney."

Copley announced the launch of an investigation into alleged malfeasance by Burchett in December at a fiscal court meeting, following a series of incidents at the Boyd County Detention Center that included inmate escapes, overdoses and a small riot that led to the temporary closure of the jail.

In January, following the escapes of four more inmates on Dec. 28, the Boyd County Fiscal Court called on Burchett to resign immediately.

But Burchett, 67, has remained in the position he’s held since 2003. Burchett is not running for reelection after he withdrew his name from the ballot prior to the candidate filing deadline.

If convicted on the malfeasance charge prior to the end of his term in January, Burchett could be removed from office. The charge is not punishable with jail time but carries a maximum penalty of a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000.

The next step in the legal process is a formal arraignment on the misdemeanor charge.

Burchett's arraignment is scheduled for March 9 at 9 a.m.

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