Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jun 2003
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Kenneth Hart


Judge Probates 3-Year Sentence For Wilburn

GRAYSON Grayson's former police chief on Monday pleaded guilty to a felony 
charge stemming from the theft of prescription drugs from the department's 
property room last year.

If he avoids further trouble with the law for the next three years, Gregory 
Wilburn will not have to serve any time in prison.

Wilburn pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with 
tampering with physical evidence, a Class D felony.

Circuit Judge Samuel Long sentenced Wilburn to three years in prison, but 
agreed to probate the sentence for three years on the recommendation of 
Commonwealth's Attorney David Flatt.

"I think Greg just wanted to admit guilt and put this thing behind him," 
Flatt said. "That was the impression I got."

Because of the felony conviction, Wilburn, 39, of Stinson Road, can never 
again work as a police officer. Flatt said it was his understanding that 
the former chief was now employed as a pipefitter.

Wilburn entered his own guilty plea, but otherwise did not speak during 
Monday's proceedings.

Wilburn's attorney, Robert Miller of Grayson, left the courthouse without 
commenting and did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Flatt said he recommended probation for Wilburn - who also chaired the 
FIVCO Area Drug Enforcement Task Force (FADE) - in part because Wilburn had 
cooperated with investigators.

"His cooperation made it much easier to find out what happened to these 
drugs and to tie up a lot of the loose ends," he said.

Flatt, a FADE board member and former board chair, said he was satisfied 
with the resolution of the case, "but I'm still disappointed with the whole 

The charge against Wilburn stemmed from a Kentucky State Police 
investigation into the disappearance of more than 2,000 pills from the 
Grayson Police Department's evidence room, located in the city's municipal 
building. The drugs _ including the painkillers OxyContin, Lorcet and 
Percocet and the anti-depressants Xanax and Valium - were being held as 
evidence in the Labor Day 2001 robbery of the Grayson Rite Aid store.

Investigators did not find any evidence that Wilburn illegally sold any of 
the drugs, Flatt said. He said it was his belief that Wilburn took them for 
his own personal use.

Wilburn will have to undergo random drug testing as a condition of his 
probation and also could be required to receive substance-abuse counseling, 
Flatt said.

Long scheduled final sentencing for Aug. 4.

Wilburn was charged in a criminal information handed up April 7. He had 
previously pleaded not guilty. By appearing in court voluntarily to plead 
to the information, which carries essentially the same force as a grand 
jury indictment, he was able to avoid arrest and therefore is not subject 
to bond. However, he would be subject to arrest if he fails to show up for 
his sentencing.

Wilburn, a former U.S. Marine who joined the police department in the 
1980s, resigned as chief Sept. 17, citing "prolonged and continuing medical 
complications and concerns." He had been on sick leave since mid-June.

Before that, Wilburn had been on medical leave after being diagnosed with 
an inoperable brain aneurysm.

Assistant Chief Keith Hill was promoted to chief by the city council last 
June to replace Wilburn.

The council also responded to the disappearance of the drugs by passing a 
measure to tighten control of the property room.

Wilburn had appointed himself property officer and had the only key to the 
room, according to Flatt.

Officials with FADE said they believed Wilburn's actions did not compromise 
the multi-county task force because Wilburn's position with FADE was 
strictly administrative.

The drugs were discovered missing June 13, 2001, after Long issued a court 
order, at Flatt's request, directing the police department to bring the 
drugs to court so they could be returned to Rite Aid.

The next day, Long issued a search warrant for the property room. The KSP 
served it that same day and seized the contents of the room.

Investigators discovered that a number of bottles that had contained 
prescription drugs had been tampered with, Flatt said. The foil seals on 
the bottles had been pulled back, the pills removed and replaced with 
over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, and the seals glued back in 

The drugs taken from the property room were among about 6,000 doses of 
medication stolen from Rite Aid in the Sept. 2, 2001, robbery. Ryan A. 
Moore of Ashland and Thadd M. Ward of Flatwoods were arrested after police 
interrupted the holdup.

Both pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the robbery. Moore was 
sentenced to eight years in prison; Ward was sentenced to three years.
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