Former Christian County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven E. Tucker, 50, entered a guilty plea before Judge Andrew Self Wednesday afternoon.
Tucker accepted a guilty plea that amended his charge of theft by unlawful taking over $10,000 but under $1,000,000 down to theft by unlawful taking over $500 but under $10,000.
Along with the amended charge, Tucker is required to pay restitution to the Juvenile Drug Court in the amount roughly $55,000. However, he must pay that restitution in the next 60 days.
The plea deal also recommended a diversion for Tucker’s case after he serves 180 days in Christian County Jail.
According to New Era archives, Tucker was accused of stealing more than $55,000 over a seven-year period from the Christian County Juvenile Services Foundation.
The nonprofit helps fund the costs associated with juvenile drug court. Tucker was president of the foundation, a role that the archive says was not contractually connected to his employment as a sheriff’s deputy.
Judge Self accepted his guilty plea and Tucker’s defense attorney, H.B. Quinn, suggested to move forward with final sentencing being that the case is a diversion case. Self agreed.
A diversion means that as long as the defendant doesn’t commit any additional offenses over a certain period of time, the case will be diverted and the defendant’s charges will be removed from their record.
Before Self continued to proceed with sentencing, he allowed Tucker to speak on his behalf. He began by briefly saying that it was his fault and a consequence of his actions but that it was also an “accounting error” on his part.
“I know it’s my fault. But, I would like to say that through my actions (as a school resource officer) I was able to help families,” Tucker said. “I helped kids at school by providing food, some clothing. Your honor, I betrayed the trust and for that I am truly sorry. It was my fault.
“Being an SRO for the last 10 years has been the most rewarding then I could possibly have because, in that position, that’s where rubber meets the road and you truly get to help a child and I am grateful for that.”
After listening to Tucker’s statements, Self shared that he was disappointed with what Tucker had to say.
“Mr. Tucker, for someone who just entered a guilty plea to stealing over $55,000 from a non-profit organization, your statement is disappointing,” Self said. “This is not an ordinary case. It’s not an extraordinary case just because of the nature of the case.
“There are plenty of theft cases that come through this court. What makes this case an extraordinary case is who the perpetrator is and who the victims are.”
Self continued to explain that being that Tucker was a law enforcement officer, who is supposed to enforce the law, broke the law, makes it an extraordinary case.
Self continued to say that he acknowledges the good things that Tucker did as an SRO and didn’t want to minimize those things. However, that fact made the case more troubling and difficult to understand for Self.
Self also mentioned that history of the juvenile drug court system and how, at one point, it lost state funding. Judges and the city took it upon themselves to raise the money necessary to keep the program running in Christian County.
Self explained that the fact that during that time, Tucker had stolen over $55,000 that he said could’ve been greatly used by the program.
Another victim in this case, Self continued, was law enforcement. He shared that Tucker’s actions leaves a “stain” on law enforcement officials.
“Sadly, what you have done has inflicted great damage on the integrity of all those things,” Self said to Tucker. “I hope you realize that.
“I hear you say that this was somehow an accounting error, to be quite frank, blows my mind. There’s no way there can be a $55,000 accounting error. So, I wish I heard you accept greater responsibility for what you’ve have done and I hope, at some point, you’ll be able to express that.”
Ultimately though, Self explained that despite being disappointed with Tucker’s statements, he felt that the recommendation from the commonwealth was appropriate.
Self agreed to sentence Tucker to 180 days in prison and granting a diversion after that time served and a period of five years, as long as he pays restitution on time as required.
REACH Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra