Tim Conley of Morgan County was hailed by many as a hero for leading the rebuilding efforts in West Liberty after it was devastated by a tornado two years ago.
Conley stood before a federal judge Tuesday and admitted that he used that tragedy for his own personal gain.
Conley was emotional in court as he admitted that he had accepted illegal kickbacks from a bridge contractor.
Conley pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud as part of a plea deal that dismissed all other charges.
He told the court he is “just a county judge from Eastern Kentucky that loves his community,” but said that he also realized that what he did was wrong.
Prosecutors said that after the 2012 tornado, Conley gave about a million dollars in work to a construction company in exchange for more than $120,000 in kickbacks.
“It's a hopeful day for the people of Morgan County,” said Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney. “They can look forward now to a day when the important duties of the county judge executive office will be discharged with honor and integrity.”
“This is an unfortunate chapter in Judge Conley's life and he wants to put it behind him and he still does truly love his community and he wants to help continue serving the community,” said Michael Murphy, Conley’s attorney.
Conley faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines plus restitution for the mail fraud charge.
He’s scheduled to be sentenced in December.