The Bell County District Court has dismissed charges including abuse of public trust that were brought against Harlan County Magistrate James F. Howard in October. The case was moved out of Harlan County and heard by the Bell County district judge.
A previous report states on Oct. 16, detectives from Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement/Special Investigations served a warrant on Howard on charges of misuse of confidential information and abuse of public trust.
According to the Bell County Circuit Court Clerk’s office, the charges were dismissed on Monday by Judge Robert Yoakum for lack of probable cause.
Howard’s attorney, Otis Doan confirmed all charges were dismissed.
“The charges against Mr. Howard were dismissed by the judge of the Bell County District Court after hearing testimony of several witnesses,” said Doan. “There was no evidence to support these charges, and therefore they were properly dismissed.”
Howard said he is glad the matter is over.
“I knew there wasn’t anything to it from the beginning,” Howard said. “I knew I was innocent…today we had our hearing in court and the judge dismissed all charges…I am just glad it’s over and the truth came out.”
According to a previous report, Howard was arrested on a complaint stating while serving as chairman of the Industrial Development Authority and exercising the function of a public officer of the Harlan County IDA, Howard accepted or agreed to accept a pecuniary interest by issuing checks to L.P. Energy (a company in which Howard is a major stock holder, corporate officer and managing member).
Reach Joe P. Asher 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde