Joseph Adam Minor, a former deputy with the Barren County Sheriff’s Office, received two years of probation Thursday for his role in a federal deprivation of rights case in which he became a cooperating witness to get a lesser sentence.
Minor entered a guilty plea on May 1, 2012, to one count of false statement related to lying to federal investigators as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Then-Sheriff Chris Eaton was convicted on two counts of witness tampering, but acquitted on deprivation of rights under color of law and other charges. Two other deputies were acquitted of all charges against them.
Joseph McKinley, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, made his decision about Minor after about 15 minutes of discussion with both prosecutors representing the U.S. government and Minor’s defense attorney Ken Garrett.
McKinley reviewed the recommendations set forth in the plea agreement and presentence investigation report, and prosecutor Sanjay Patel requested a reduction of 50 percent of the normal sentence because of the “valuable” assistance Minor had provided to the government during its investigation of an alleged assault of Billy Ray Stinnett while he was being detained after a chase in February, 2010.
Garrett requested that his client not receive a fine, but the judge questioned whether that was addressed in the agreement and Patel advised it was not. McKinley said the presentencing report indicated he had the means to pay a fine.
Garrett said that, regardless of that, a fine should not be part of the sentence.
McKinley asked Patel whether he believed Minor’s crime was serious and needed to be punished, and the answer to both was yes.
“How does this sentence punish him?” the judge inquired.
Patel pointed out that Minor came forward right after the indictment and provided information that helped lead prosecutors to elements of the case they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, with the “underlying offense orchestrated by Mr. Eaton.”
The government had requested in court documents that Minor be sentenced at the low end of a zero- to 6-months incarceration guideline, and requested probation, but it was pushing for an 87- to 108-month sentence for Eaton’s witness tampering charges.
McKinley pointed out that Minor had admitted to assaulting Stinnett, but Eaton was acquitted.
“Is that fact lost on you?” the judge asked the prosecutor, who replied “no.”
Government co-prosecutor Roy Conn III said the maximum for making a false statement was five years, while the maximum for witness tampering is 20.
McKinley asked then whether the government would be filing a motion to have the assault charge dismissed, which Conn confirmed.
“I understand that he’s your witness and I understand he made your case, and I understand he should get some kind of break for this,” the judge said.
Conn said Minor is now a convicted felon who can no longer carry a firearm, and he’s no longer in law enforcement.
“We believe there’s a measure of punishment that’s been meted out to him in this case,” Conn said.
He went on, in response to the judge’s questioning, to say that it was unlikely Minor would commit further crimes.
Minor was then offered an opportunity to speak.
“I think, sir, the felony is a punishment. It’s a lot of punishment to me,” Minor said, noting how the felon status would impact his future jobs and being able to have protection in his own home.
He also said the probation requirements would be an inconvenience.
Garrett, restating essentially the same reasons, said, “The punishment is there.”
McKinley granted the government’s motion to remove three of the six levels of what the sentencing guidelines spelled out and granted the probation.
Garrett said while travel is typically limited to within the jurisdiction during probation, Minor’s job with an auto sales company sometimes requires him to travel elsewhere in Kentucky besides the Western District and in Tennessee, and probation officials in the courtroom agreed to allow that, with the judge’s approval, which he gave contingent that it could only be for work purposes. McKinley waived the standard drug testing requirement for probation.
The judge imposed a $500 fine in addition to $100 court costs, and, in conclusion, at Patel’s request, McKinley dismissed the deprivation of rights charge, which was also referred to as the assault charge. Minor also signed a document acknowledging that he understood that, with his plea agreement, he had given up his right to appeal.
Garrett, Minor and a small group of supporters all declined to comment afterward. The prosecutors are not allowed to comment.
Read more of this story in the print or digital Glasgow Daily Times. http://glasgowdailytimes.cnhi.newsmemory.com/