By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
A former detective with the London Police Department pled guilty to stealing more than $100,000 from the police department in a six-month period last year.
Russell Wayne Baker, 40, of London, entered the guilty plea in Laurel Circuit Court on Wednesday. Court records indicate that Baker underwent an “indictment by information” and pled guilty to theft by unlawful taking of the value of more than $10,000.” Baker allegedly took $104,063 from the London Police Department between January 1 and July 1, 2011, while he was an employee there.
The Class C felony carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison; however, the plea agreement specifies that Baker’s recommended five-year sentence be probated for a 10-year period and he serve only 90 days in jail. Once the 90-day jail term is completed, Baker has the 10-year probationary time to repay the money taken from the police department and $4,113 for accounting fees for a total of $108,176. Baker must pay a minimum of $300 per month toward the balance on or before his probationary period expires.
Baker is set for sentencing on September 21.
Although most persons indicted in a criminal case must go through either the district court level and/or face indictment by a Laurel grand jury, Baker took neither of those routes.
Instead, he was “indicted by information,” which occurs when a person and the defense attorney agree that a crime has been committed and the individual facing charges agrees to plead guilty without going through the indictment process in court.
Although this procedure is rare, it is a legitimate legal action.
London Police Chief Stewart Walker declined to comment concerning the specifics of the case against Baker, although he said the situation came to light when he stepped to the helm of the police department.
“I noted the discrepancies and took immediate action,” Walker said. “I contacted the FBI, got the information together and let the Kentucky State Police do the rest of the investigation.”
Walker said the discrepancies in money actually began in July 2010, conflicting with the dates listed in the court records. Walker was appointed Chief of the London Police Department in November 2010 after several months of serving in that position following the resignation of former Chief Elijah Hollon on July 1, 2010.
Walker added that Baker had “done a lot of good things” during his time as a police officer but “made a mistake.”
Baker resigned from the London Police Department on May 1, 2011 after 16 years on the job.