Commonwealth Journal

January 31, 2014

Former Shelter director charged in plot

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

The former Pulaski County Animal Shelter director has been swept up in an alleged May 2013 plot to steal current interim director Charlotte Bray’s recording device. 
Darren Wesley, 40, has been charged with one count of complicity to tampering with physical evidence, a Class D felony, according to documents filed last week by a prosecutor with Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office.
“ ... On or between May 30, 2013, and May 31, 2013, in Pulaski County ... Darren R. Wesley, acting along or in complicity with one or more others, committed the offense of tampering with physical evidence, when believing that an official proceeding was pending or may be instituted, he took a digital recorder belonging to Charlotte Bray, with the intent to impair its verity or availability in the official proceeding,” states the document filed by Special Prosecutor Jeffrey R. Prather.
The charge, filed Jan. 24, is an information charge, which means it was entered as a criminal charge without an indictment as handed down by a grand jury. Wesley, who has only been formally charged and not arrested in the case, waived his rights to go before a grand jury, which means the case is proceeding directly to Pulaski Circuit Court. 
Bray, the alleged victim, had been the secretary at the shelter when her recorder was allegedly taken. She took over as interim director in December after Wesley’s resignation. Bray currently has a discrimination complaint pending with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was filed in early 2013, against the county. 
Bray, who is being represented by local defense attorney Robert Norfleet, transferred to the animal shelter in 2011 after working at the Pulaski County Detention Center. 
Wesley resigned from his position as the animal shelter director in mid-December after an approximate 9-year tenure there. According to information provided by county officials, Wesley was hired to work at the shelter in December 2004. He had worked as director of the shelter for at least two years before his resignation in December 2013. 
Wesley is the third person to be named in public court documents in connection with the alleged incident. During Tuesday’s Pulaski County Fiscal Court meeting, Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield  stated that animal shelter employee Jimmie Jones, 54 had been arrested Tuesday morning and charged with two misdemeanors — theft by unlawful taking under $500 and falsely reporting an incident — in connection with the incident.
Jones posted bond Tuesday, but he is required to stay away from Bray while his case works its way through the court system. Fiscal court voted to suspend Jones without pay until the case is resolved due to his being unable to work at the animal shelter alongside Bray. 
“As such, he (Jones) can’t perform his job there, obviously,” said Hatfield on Tuesday. “He can’t be on the grounds.”
Bray voiced her support of Jones during Tuesday’s meeting, calling him an “awesome” worker.
“Yes, there was some issues that went on prior, back in the summer time, but that is behind us,” Bray said. “... He really cares. I need those kind of workers in there with me.” 
According to Jones’ arrest warrant, filed Tuesday by Somerset Police Detective Chris Gates, “(Jones) is seen on surveillance video standing as look-out while another employee took the digital recorder out of the victim’s purse.” 
Jones also allegedly bought batteries “ ... so that all the co-defendants could listen to it once the recorder was taken,” according to the warrant. 
Former animal shelter employee Nathan Epperson, 19, was also arrested Tuesday and charged with theft by unlawful taking under $500 and falsely reporting an incident. 
According to Epperson’s arrest warrant, also filed by Gates, he can be seen on surveillance video “ ... reaching into the victim’s purse and removing the digital recorder.”
But Epperson, who also posted bond Tuesday and was released from jail, then allegedly placed the recorder back in Bray’s purse and “obtained the assistance of a work release inmate to actually take the digital recorder,” according to the warrant. 
The alleged incident occurred at the animal shelter. 
The next day, Jones and Epperson filed a criminal complaint against Bray with the Somerset Police Department, stating they found her recorder. 
“This was not true and is considered falsely reporting an incident to the police by giving false information with the intent to implicate another,” states the arrest warrant filed in Jones’ case. “The recorder was stolen and not found as reported.”
The arrest warrant filed in Epperson’s case states that Epperson “gave a complete confession” during an interview with investigators. 
A spokesperson with Conway’s office declined to comment on the situation, stating that it is an ongoing investigation. 
A court date in Wesley’s case is set for Feb. 20.