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Imprisoned Former Covington Finance Director Already Up for Parole

A little more than a year after he was sentenced to prison, former Covington finance director Bob Due could be released.

The man who eventually admitted to taking what Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen said was nearly $800,000 from the City of Covington, will visit with the Kentucky Parole Board in July. If granted parole, he could be released in September.

"I hope not," said Kenton Co. Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders, who wrote a letter to the parole board urging that they keep Due behind bars.

"Obviously, Bob Due's crimes rocked Covington City Hall and the city is still in the process of recovering both fiscally and proverbially," said Sanders, who was a city commissioner in the early 2000's before being elected as the county's top prosecutor. "I think it is important that the community see trusted public officials that commit crimes be held accountable."

Due, who was hired as the city's finance director in 1999, was arrested in August 2013 when his long-running scheme finally fell apart. 

Because Due had complete control over the City of Covington's finances, he was able to write 68 checks to himself, his wife, and his sick aunt, as well as a fake vendor that he used, for a combined $793,127 from 2001 to 2013.

There were two fake vendor names entered into the city's accounting software. To write a check, Due would enter payment information using one of the two fictitious vendors or one of three legitimate city vendors and change the name in the system to himself, his wife, his aunt, or the vendor he created. After hours, Due would return to City Hall, print the checks, delete the check history from the printer in order to avoid detection, change the name in the system back to the original vendor and deposit the checks into personal accounts he controlled.

The scheme went on for a dozen years, undetected by the annual audit conducted by outside accounting firms. Edelen blasted the city's lack of controls in the report he released in February 2014. “The scheme wasn’t particularly elaborate,” Auditor Edelen said at the time. “But the city’s failure to establish checks and balances and provide oversight granted him the opportunity.”

The City of Covington immediately pursued the stolen funds, suing banks, auditing firms, and Due himself, as well as establishing a special task force to examine the city's financial practices. 

The process of creating stricter compliance and better practices in the finance department continues today under the guidance of new finance director Lisa Goetz and new director of operations Lisa Desmarais.

Though Due's crimes are still felt at City Hall, Sanders believes that the 65-year old may be an attractive candidate for parole because he does not meet the profile of someone likely to offend again. "Bob Due is probably one of the best candidates for parole they'll see," Sanders told The River City News. "(But) chances of re-offending should not be all they consider. Due did not get as much prison time as I thought he should in the first place."

Due pleaded guilty in March 2013, after two separate suicide attempts while on home incarceration, and while Sanders recommended 15 years behind bars. The following June, Judge Gregory Bartlett sentenced Due to 10 years. Accounting for time served as the parole schedule, it was reported at the time that Due could spent less than 3 years in total behind bars.

Whether the City of Covington would take an official stance on Due's parole eligibility was not clear on Thursday. "I do not know that the city will take a position. That will be up to the city manager to determine and facilitate," said city solicitor and assistant city manager Frank Warnock. 

"The city commission has not discussed it yet or had the opportunity to discuss it, but I believe it would be good for them to take a position on this," City Manager Larry Klein said. "It certainly seems way too soon in my opinion for parole to be considered."

"It just seems like it resolved itself about a year ago as far as the final sentencing and I'm not quite sure why he'd be up for parole already, but I guess that's what the rules are. The damage is done and will be felt for some time."

The Covington City Commission will have a special meeting on Monday to discuss the next fiscal year's budget and the issue may be brought up then, Klein said.

Sanders wants all who oppose Due's release to write the Kentucky Parole Board at Attention: Mesha Rogers, P.O. Box 2400, Frankfort, KY, 40602.

"Given the enormity of his theft, Mr. Due has earned more punishment than what he has currently served," Sanders wrote in his letter to the parole board. "Anything less unduly depreciates the seriousness of his offense and will further erode public confidence in government."

This story has been updated to include remarks from Covington City Manager Larry Klein

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Bob Due (via Kenton Co. Detention Center)