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City Commissioner Michelle Williams' Criminal Record Being Investigated

UPDATE (Wednesday 3:50 p.m.): WCPO reports that Covington City Commissioner Michelle Williams also faced a criminal charge during here time in the United States Army:

On a federal level, Edmondson’s inquiry also indicated that Williams, who served in the military before moving to Kentucky, received a general court martial on a bad conduct discharge for larceny of private property/funds and larceny of mail in December 1988.

Williams’ biography on the city of Covington website indicates she grew up the child of an Air Force family and served in the United States Army from 1987 to 1990.

Edmondson also serves as the attorney for the Kenton County Board of Elections.

“Ultimately my office will report to the commission, city manager, and state board of elections,” Edmondson said.

Williams did not comment about the investigation after Tuesday night's city commission meeting.

ORIGINAL POST:

The criminal record of Covington City Commissioner Michelle Williams is being investigated by the Kenton County Attorney to determine whether she is holding the office legally.

Documents obtained this week by The River City News indicate arrests and/or charges in Kenton, Boone, and Woodford Counties in Kentucky as well as Hamilton County, Ohio.

Charges include possession of cocaine, marijuana, disorderly conduct, and shoplifting as well as contempt of court.

In 2008, Williams was arrested at the Florence Mall and charged with second degree robbery. That charge was amended down to theft by unlawful taking (under $300). She was also charged with fourth degree assault in the incident that apparently involved a security officer that she was accused of biting, The River City News was told. She pleaded guilty to theft and assault charge and was sentenced to one year in jail, conditionally discharged for a year.

In February of 2009 Williams faced  a disorderly conduct charge an was arrested in Covington. A contempt of court charge in the case was later dismissed.

In April 2010 Williams was again arrested in Covington and this time was charged with possession of a cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ninety days in jail that were conditionally discharged.

At Covington City Hall, the issue of whether Williams can legally serve in office was handed over to the Kenton County Attorney's Office. The Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmonson:

Edmondson said that if an elected official has been convicted of a “high misdemeanor” he or she would not be legally holding office.

Edmondson and Warnock said that high misdemeanors can be interpreted as crimes involving moral turpitude. That is a criminal law term defined as “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of good morals or conduct that has an inherent quality of moral concern with respect to a person’s duty to another or to society.”

The Kentucky Constitution says anyone convicted of a felony or high misdemeanor who has not been pardoned by the governor shall be excluded from holding public office in the commonwealth.

The Covington City Commission meets later Tuesday night. Members of the city commission were made aware of the investigation on Monday, The River City News has learned.

Update:

The City of Covington released this official statement:

The Covington Legal Department has received reports that there are questions about whether a Covington City Commissioner may serve in her capacity as a City Commissioner.

The legal issue has been turned over to the Kenton County Attorney's Office. Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson represents the Kenton County Clerk's Office, and the Kenton County Board of Elections. 

To be clear, the City of Covington did not initiate an investigation that led to the public's discovery of this information.

The Legal Department has advised the Mayor and City Commission, as well as city staff, not to comment on the issue.

Any questions should be directed to Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson.

"The City does not have jurisdiction to address these election issues and all questions should be directed to the authorities that handle election issues" said City Solicitor Frank Warnock.

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Photo: Michelle Williams