The following was submitted by guest JurisDoctorate as a response to the article, “Rooted in corruption: the early days of Tom Handy, former Commonwealth Attorney of Knox, Laurel counties.” Eloquent and eye-opening, I decided the comment deserves its own dedicated page on this blog.
The most horrifying aspect of the entire kangaroo court system in Knox/Laurel Counties, is that Tom Handy railroaded defendants for over two decades and got away with it. The number of convictions overturned by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the Kentucky Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — convictions procured by Tom Handy’s office between the late 1970s and the late 1990s — is both bewildering and disturbing. Just as the OP documented and outlined in the above story, many convictions were overturned due to egregious due process violations, fabricated or altered evidence, perjury on the part of the Commonwealth’s witnesses, failure to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense (“Brady” violations), jury tampering, and blatant lies told by Tom Handy, Jimmy Phelps, Johnny Phelps, KSP troopers and other agents for the Commonwealth, while under oath. Any other prosecutor in any other jurisdiction would almost certainly have been disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct and prosecuted for repeatedly perpetrating fraud upon the judiciary in order to railroad criminal defendants of whom the Commonwealth knew were innocent. If the 27th Judicial Circuit (Knox & Laurel Counties) is not the most corrupt and nepotistic jurisdiction in the entire country, I would be hard-pressed to conceive of a scenario where corruption was more abundant.
Tom Handy’s tenure as Commonwealth’s Attorney and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney is only the tiny tip of the proverbial iceberg. Laurel County now has a jailer who, since being elected into office, has made several millions of dollars by selling electronic cigarettes to inmates. Jailer Jamie Mosley owns Crossbar Electronic Cigarettes, a very lucrative company that manufactures and sells special safety designed electronic cigarettes to jails and prisons throughout the United States. That fact is not problematic in and of itself — it’s the manner in which Jailer Mosley founded and established his multimillion dollar business. Indeed, he started by selling his patented e-cigs to the inmates at the Laurel County Jail — the same jail he was elected to supervise and operate.
Federal and state laws are very clear that a genuine conflict of interest ensues when an elected jailer — who is paid by the county fiscal court — conducts business in a manner where financial gain is being obtained by way of the jailer’s official office. It’s double dipping first and foremost — running a profitable business while conducting the duties for which he is being paid by the good taxpayers. It would be no different than a KSP trooper working as security personnel for a business while on the clock at the KSP post. So, when this conflict of interest came to light and taxpayers began making inquiries into the legal and ethical standpoints of the matter, guess what Jailer Mosley posits to alleviate himself of criminal culpability and malfeasance of office? He did what any good Laurel County politician would do — he told a bold face lie, stating that it was his wife, not he, who owned and operated Crossbar Cigarettes.
By selling e-cigs for a couple of years to the inmates of the jail he was elected to supervise, as well as other county jails in Kentucky, Jamie Mosley’s entrepreneurship paid off and he was able to build the company into the very successful multimillion dollar business it is today. In 2018 alone, for instance, CrossBar profited more than $3.5 million bucks. And he built his foundation while being paid by the taxpayers of Laurel County. Incredibly, he continues to get away with it.
I should also mention the elected Sheriff of Laurel County, Mr. John Root. A more corrupt sheriff there has never been. Sheriff Root likewise profits while on the taxpayers’ dime. For example, he allows several local businesses in Laurel County to own and operate illegal gambling machines, AKA “poker machines”… for a modest fee of course. Proprietors of these small stores are given very clear directives regarding the financial arrangement for being allowed to operate. The Sheriff’s office hosts fundraisers and benefit events throughout the year for a colorful variety of “good causes.” Store owners who operate these poker machines are strongly encouraged to be forthcoming with modest donations to these good causes. In turn, they receive promises that law enforcement will turn a blind eye to the illegal gambling and will not make on-duty appearances at the businesses just as long as the riffraff doesn’t get out of hand. No obvious drug trafficking in the parking lot; no prostitutes being obvious with their goods and services; no public drunkenness to a degree where fights start breaking out; and, of course, free coffee and donuts for the boys in blue. After all, these officers are promoting “good causes” in the community.
These rules apply equally to poker rooms and cockfighting establishments. However, Sheriff Root has recently drawn unwanted attention from some of the more prominent animal rights organizations such as SHARK (SHOWING ANIMALS RESPECT AND KINDNESS), a group which is very active in investigating and trying to shut down venues where cockfights are held, as well as taking steps to have the venue owners arrested and prosecuted. Check out YouTube by searching for the keywords “SHARK,” “Supersheriff John Root” and “Cockfighting.” This group has put a rather intense spotlight on much of the corruption occurring in Laurel County.
To cover even a scintilla of the nepotism, cronyism and public corruption occurring in Laurel and Knox Counties, I would need to pen several chapters of a robust manuscript. Some occurrences are so baffling to believe that they sound like works of fiction. Moreover, I’m so paranoid posting this reply that I have taken steps to spoof my IP address and encrypt all my internet traffic by routing it through a foreign VPN server.
The politicians in the 27th Judicial Circuit would do well to employ caution in their everyday dealings and crookery. I recall that several years ago, Clay County, Kentucky, was knee-deep in political corruption and kangaroo court practices. Most people believed those powerful men could not be touched by the law. On July 9, 2009, the Clay County Circuit Court Judge, Cletus Maricle, Clay County School Superintendent Doug Adams, Clay County Clerk Freddy W. Thompson, and Clay County election officer William Stivers, as well as other Clay County officials, were named in a 13-count federal indictment. The indictment included Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) charges relating to a county-wide vote-buying scheme which allegedly occurred from 2002 until 2007. The four aforementioned officials, as well as other defendants, were ultimately convicted of the charges per a plea agreement with the US Attorney’s office. Although the sentences handed down did not result in prison time, the ordeal ruined the men in the political arena.
Like the officials in Laurel County, the Clay County politicians were being far too bold and arrogant in their corrupt schemes. Their collective disregard for discreteness ultimately led to their demise. I’m no fortune teller, clairvoyant or divine seer, but I have a hunch that several of the top elected officials in Laurel County will likewise be named in a federal indictment sometime within the next two years. Good riddance is my position on it.
In true accord, I hope they get railroaded.
Full article from The Gleaner here
“You kill a hog, we could never figure out how to get paid when he squeals. But we learned how to use every part of that hog when we’d kill him. But we could never figure out how to get paid for the squeal.”
The ties may be innocuous, meaningful, or in some cases, may not exist at all. These diagrams are for your further research.
Update: I believe this obituary may reference John Bizzack Sr., father of John W. Bizzack. More ties between the Bizzack name and the rats’ nest in southeastern Kentucky will be documented in a future post.
More evidence surfaces of ties between Sally Denton’s Bluegrass Conspiracy players to southeast Kentucky: Johnny Bizzack, former Lexington police detective long suspected of helping to cover up the disappearance of Melanie Flynn and the death of Rebecca Moore, has at least one link to Knox County:
Johnny Bizzack, Charles Hopper, Walter Hopper Jr., and H.M. Callihan…
Never mind six degrees of separation, John Bizzack’s name alongside Knox County’s Charles Hopper and Walter Hopper Jr. of funeral home fame downright startled me, especially given the rumor that Betty Carnes had been seen with Charles at a Cincinnati night club before her murder, Charles’ own mysterious death before Delmar Partin’s trial, and the cloud of suspicion that’s followed Johnny Bizzack since Sally Denton zeroed in on his behavior in the Flynn and Moore cases. You may also remember when I questioned George Nichols. medical examiner, about the autopsy report not matching Betty Carnes, he said Walter Hopper, the coroner, was the one who contacted him to retrieve Betty’s body, except Walter Hopper was not the coroner at the time.
H.M. Callihan was in business with Jimmy Renfro around the same time as Melanie Flynn’s disappearance and Bizzack’s acquaintance with these notable Knox Countians:
Remember what the CIA contractor I interviewed about Vance Mills, James Renfro and the cocaine trafficking going on in southeast Kentucky said?
I’ll never forget, Johnny Asher said to me one day, ‘We got it figured out back here. You kill a hog, we could never figure out how to get paid when he squeals. But we learned how to use every part of that hog when we’d kill him. But we could never figure our how to get paid for the squeal.’ I couldn’t figure that out for a long time. What in the heck does he mean by that?
“Then they had offered me, ‘If you ever die, we’ll give you a free funeral. If any of your friends ever die, we’ll give them free funerals.’ Well that’s almost unheard of. That’s real southern hospitality they showed me at the start. I didn’t know they was gonna take these people and stuff them full of guns and drugs and network them through the whole country. That’s what they got caught for. And they didn’t get jail for it! What you are dealing with, it’s pretty serious stuff.”
Mike Smith is now the sheriff of Knox County, Kentucky.
Please examine the two following documents, one an excerpt from the trial, the others, two chain of custody evidence logs:
(“TH” is Tom Handy, Commonwealth Attorney, and “GN” is George Nichols.)
Below is a document supporting what George Nichols tells Tom Handy: a portion of Betty Carnes’ remains were released to Trooper (now Sheriff) Mike Smith:
Is it ever acceptable to describe human remains have “no value”? Is it acceptable to put human remains in the garbage?
The hair sample, the only hair sample with a follicle that could have been tested for DNA, was also given to Trooper Smith. See the document below:
Is it safe to assume the DNA-containing follicle of hair was also “destroyed” and “put in garbage,” being designated as “no value?”
Both documents are signed by a “Tr Smith”- Trooper Smith.
I was talking to a colleague the other day about how many innocent people I believe Tom Handy, former Commonwealth Attorney for Knox and Laurel counties, Kentucky, has wrongfully prosecuted: approximately half a dozen or so men and women I’ve uncovered so far. My friend made the comment, “Sometimes people just go bad.”
I believe Tom Handy was bad from the beginning.
The Defendant in the following documents (whose name I’ve redacted because he’s been through enough already) was, in my opinion, framed for an armed robbery he did not commit by Troopers Roland Huckabee and Jimmy Phelps (AKA Jimmie Phelps) . This theory is supported by the fact The Defendant received a letter from the alleged victim of the robbery stating that the victim “was sorry for causing (The Defendant) all that trouble and was going to drop the charges.”
It’s my opinion victims don’t normally write apology letters to the armed robber that held them up.
Furthermore, The Defendant, while young, 18 to be exact, had become successful financially and professionally: he owned his own body shop, ran a small trucking service comprised of three trucks, and had been made president of another hauling company. He had no reason to rob someone of $40 at gunpoint.
I think small-town, small-minded jealousy played a large part in getting The Defendant indicted for a crime I believe he did not commit. (As you will find out, not once, but twice.)
Would it surprise you to learn Officer Jimmy Phelps was not on duty when he and Trooper Huckabee went to The Defendant’s home with the alleged victim to accuse him of armed robbery? In fact, court testimony from the London City Police Chief Albert Davis affirms Jimmy Phelps would not have been on official business for the City of London at that time. In fact, Jimmy Phelps wasn’t scheduled to work that day at all. So what was he doing there?
The Defendant was asked under oath, “Has there been trouble in the past between you and Trooper Huckabee and you and city policeman Phelps?” and “Has Trooper Huckabee told you directly that he was going to ‘get you one way or the other?'” and “Did also city policeman Phelps tell you in words or substance that he was going to ‘get you’ also?” The Defendant answered “YES” each time.
Allegedly, the victim was “signaled” by a car on Interstate 75 to pull over on the side of the road, where he was then robbed at gunpoint.
Reading the alleged victim’s statement to police, I find it hard to believe The Defendant is going to turn around in the median, a maneuver reserved for law enforcement/public safety vehicles, then be confident enough to pull off and drive through the weigh station and back onto the highway, all to commit an armed robbery that anyone driving by is going to see immediately. I believe the vehicle had no fear of driving through the median and pulling off through the weigh station, actions performed by law enforcement, because the vehicle that “signaled” the alleged victim to pull over, was indeed law enforcement.
Not The Defendant.
Theory: you’re a 21-year old college student. You’re alone on the side of the road with people who wield enormous power over you. You’re hundreds of miles away from home in the wilds of southeast Kentucky. Your only thought is getting out of there in one piece. Are you going to do what these powerful people say? Maybe you were speeding. Maybe you swerved a little changing the radio station. Maybe you had a joint in the car. Whatever you did, you garnered the wrong people’s attention, and now you’re left with very little choice but to comply.
“I was traveling down Interstate 75 going south, and as I approached the scales on the interstate I noticed a car that was in the northbound lane and crossed the median and turned in the southbound lane, and proceeded south ahead of me. It turned off and went up into the scales and as I went south on the interstate, it came out…and pulled in behind me.”
True to the theme I’ve been emphasizing, you just can’t make this stuff up: the alleged robbery victim then drove to Tom Handy’s hotel, the Ramada, to report this alleged armed robbery on the highway.
At this point in time, Tom Handy is not yet a Commonwealth Attorney. He is a defense attorney. The Defendant hires Tom Handy, defense attorney, to represent him on the armed robbery charge. Tom Handy does so, right up until the trial.
Before it is time for The Defendant to actually go to trial for the armed robbery, a couple things happen: one, he is wrongfully charged with the murders of two businessmen, Horace Gill and Curtis Wilbur Murphy from Lakeland, Florida who were in Kentucky hoping to ride the coal boom, and two, his defense attorney Tom Handy, was made Assistant Commonwealth Attorney.
So the defense attorney, Tom Handy, not only abandons his client, The Defendant, who is on trial for an armed robbery I believe he did not commit, Handy goes to work for the very office prosecuting The Defendant for that armed robbery, an office now also pursuing a wrongful murder charge against him.
What is one of the first things Tom Handy does as a new Assistant Commonwealth Attorney for Knox and Laurel counties? He betrays The Defendant, his former client, by providing information about him to law enforcement:
To make matters worse, Tom Handy would go on to prosecute his former client, The Defendant, for these two murders!
The above newspaper article concerns The Defendant’s recanting of a statement that organized crime was involved in the murders of Horace Gill and Curtis Wilbur Murphy (from case file; publisher unknown):
“…a fourth suspect (The Defendant) renounced an earlier statement, saying he was induced by lawyers and attorneys to make the… false statement.
In his renunciation in court Tuesday, (The Defendant) claimed that officials obtained his signature to the statement by promising his leniency.
(The Defendant) testified at the Preliminary Hearing that the Officials threatened him with a longer sentence in another case (clearly the armed robbery case) and promised him leniency if cooperated. He accused a federal agent, a state police detective, two county attorneys, and the assistant commonwealth attorney of deceiving him when he gave a statement to police on July 8. (The Defendant) claimed he was ‘tricked, framed, fooled and deceived.’
‘It’s unfortunate that warrants were issued on the basis of his statement,’ said Tom Handy, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney.”
Tom Handy says it was ‘unfortunate’ that warrants were issued for organized crime gangsters/thugs that were regulars at Handy’s hotel(s): Frank Starkey (AKA Frank Delano Stanley) and Vanis Robbins.
It’s between these two cases, the armed robbery that I believe was not an armed robbery, and the murders of the two Florida businessmen, Gill and Murphy, that we learn Tom Handy did not eventually become corrupted as prosecutor: that horse was out of the barn from the beginning.
The Defendant would be convicted of the armed robbery charge but thankfully found innocent of the murder charges against him, unlike many other innocents who have had the terrible misfortune of crossing Tom Handy’s path since 1976.
If the flagrant disregard by Tom Handy of what’s fair and ethical in the justice system doesn’t anger you, then the conclusion (or lack thereof) of the Horace Gill and Curtis Wilbur Murphy double homicide case will. I believe Kentucky State Police and Tom Handy determined the true murderer of these men. But instead of an arrest and pursuing a case, the file was instead marked “closed.”
Note: the viable suspect had to take three separate polygraph tests before law enforcement could finally pronounce him “truthful.”
It’s clear Tom Handy and the KSP had the power to pursue a viable suspect for the Gill-Murphy double murder, but justice for these two businessmen was reduced to a polygraph test that had to be repeated three times to get a passing result for the suspect, who was then allowed to go free.
In less than half a page, the Kentucky State Police began cementing Tom Handy’s long, corrupt career as Commonwealth Attorney of Knox and Laurel counties, instead of upholding their core values, principles, and code of ethics:
“As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice.”
A wildly popular thread on the Lexington, Kentucky Topix forum filled with facts, theories, and inevitably fiction, titled “The Bluegrass Conspiracy” (a reference to Sally Denton’s book The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs and Murder) contained a short, obscure statement from an anonymous author referencing a “huge London, KY connection” in regards to the notorious drug ring which included characters Drew Thornton, former governor John Y. Brown Jr., Harold Vance of the DEA, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Marion “Butch” Campbell, and former Lexington Police Department investigators Johnny Bizzack and Bill Canan. I became convinced that London, Kentucky connection was Larry C. Allen, an attorney dubbed “Lyin’ Larry,” and posted a reply statement to that effect on December 20, 2018.
Unfortunately, Topix, the oft-maligned forum style website was erased from internet history that very same day, just a few hours or less after my simple statement. Probably a coincidence, but one can’t help but wonder, especially when you’ve considered the possibility the website itself was an intelligence operation, a honey pot enticing citizens from all walks of life to give up information on their neighbor, community, and even themselves that could prove useful to law enforcement, information to which law enforcement normally wouldn’t be privy.
I still believe Larry C. Allen may be the key to understanding how there was such a terrible breakdown of justice in southeast Kentucky, particularly Laurel and Knox Counties. I’ve been tracking him ever since his name surfaced in a March 15, 1986 news article when researching other characters in Sally Denton’s “Bluegrass Conspiracy.”
Larry C. Allen was connected to Marion “Butch” Campbell, KSP Commissioner and Bluegrass Conspiracy character. Fascinatingly, he was also connected to drug kingpin from Maryville, Tennessee, Jerry Allen Lequire.
(Don’t forget that Bonnie Sue Anders’ brother was best friends with Glenda and Dorman Lickliter; Glenda served on the jury that convicted Delmar Partin of a murder he did not commit, a case prosecuted by Commonwealth Attorney Tom Handy.)
The fact Larry Allen and Tom Handy were both from London, Kentucky, and both took their bar exam together, made it a very good possibility they knew each other; maybe they even attended the same law school:
What’s compelling is the CIA connection to the Bluegrass Conspiracy story and the Jerry Allen Lequire tale, and the fact Larry C. Allen’s name seems to be the only other common connection between the two criminal enterprises besides the CIA.*
Richard Biggs, author of Species of Insanity: The Story of Drug Kingpin Jerry Allen Lequire, writes on his blog:
After Jerry’s near fatal mishap with his airplane after taking off from the Madisonville, TN airport, he was left without a plane and wanted by the police. He traveled to Atlanta to stay with a friend and called a lawyer acquaintance in Kentucky named Larry Allen. I’ve mentioned previously that his nickname was “lying Larry.” Allen knew a lot of people who could get things done and Jerry needed to purchase an airplane quickly. Allen agreed to meet with him in Atlanta. A day later, they made the arrangements. Allen said he knew a man in south Florida who could purchase anything Jerry needed if money wasn’t an issue. Jerry assured him it wasn’t. So, they agreed to meet in Kentucky. When Jerry arrived, Allen had arranged for a prostitute to give him a good time. Her name was Karla Espinal. And the man who would purchase the airplane for Jerry was Hank Maierhoffer. This meeting was a major turning point in Jerry’s life. Karla Espinal became the main person responsible for Jerry getting a 60 year prison sentence and Maierhoffer was a CIA agent.
A “huge London, KY connection.”
William “Tosh” Plumlee, a “former deep-cover military and CIA asset from 1956 to 1987” (Drugging America, Rodney Stich) told FBI agents in Cincinnati that in July 1958, “under the authority of a government cover agent, Larry Allen of Miami, Plumlee arranged to fly munitions to the Castro forces in Cuba.” Stich expounds on this in Defrauding America:
"In [the] FBI report, it was stated that...On or about July 5 he [Plumlee] flew a DC-3 airplane from Miami International Airport to an abandoned military airport on Marathon Island in the Florida Keys, where the plane was loaded with arms and ammunition and flew to Cuba, and was paid $900 by Allen."
Do you know who else used Marathon Island to smuggle narcotics into the country? Larry Allen’s drug kingpin friend, Jerry Allen Lequire. And in a previous post, I talked about Octavio Pino, a Cuban national who was trafficking drugs from Columbia into the United States, who mysteriously ended up in London, Kentucky, of all places.
Jerry Lequire apparently doesn’t reveal to author Biggs who told him about the Marathon landing spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same Larry C. Allen.
But… according the newspaper article above, the Larry Allen of London, Kentucky would have been just a little too young, maybe about 10 years, to have been involved in the 1958 scheme with Tosh Plumlee.
Unless, as an undercover CIA agent, Larry Allen’s age was subject to change.
“Operation Mother Goose” was a CIA scheme “dealing with joint military selection, recruitment, and training of qualified enlisted men with security ratings. These people were educated and trained in basic covert and undercover activities. After training they were released from active military duty to enroll in colleges and universities…while under CIA supervision they infiltrated student movements…student activities…and other political areas.” (Drugging America, Stich.)
Is it possible Larry Allen was packed off to Kentucky for such a purpose? Could there be a connection between Larry Allen and former Commonwealth Attorney Tom Handy besides the coincidence they both passed the bar exam at the same time?
Not long ago, on a whim, I called 411 looking for Allen’s phone number. I was shocked to receive a valid number in response. I’ve called it many times with never any answer, never an answering machine. But when I searched the number on the internet, would you believe it came back listed as a secondary number for Holly Bay Campground, located right next door to the former marina of the same name owned by Tom Handy discussed in this previous blog post?
Holly Bay is misspelled “Holly Day,” but the address is accurately Holly Bay Campground. Holly Bay Campground and Holly Bay Marina are connected by a trail that runs between the two. Anecdotal stories tell of mysterious packages being dropped into Laurel Lake by low flying aircraft throughout the years.
If indeed Larry C. Allen made Thomas V. Handy’s acquaintance back in the late 60s or early 70s, it would have been one of southeast Kentucky’s darkest days in history.