Harrisons formally sentenced in court

Katie and Clayton Harrison were formally sentenced in circuit court today for their part in the 2018 theft of public funds from the City of Kuttawa. Katie Harrison, the former city clerk, was sentenced to 9 years on a number of charges. Her husband, Clayton Harrison, was sentenced to 3 years for a number of charges related to case. Judge C.A. Woodall III denied a probated sentence for each. More on this story can be found in this week's issue of The Herald Ledger.

A judge Monday accepted the guilty pleas of Kuttawa's former city clerk and her husband who stole tens of thousands of dollars in public funds in 2018. And Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall III denied the Harrisons' individual requests for probated sentences.

Katie Harrison, 41, the ex-city clerk for the City of Kuttawa, was sent to jail for nine years on 40 felony charges, each of which carry a five- to nine-year sentence. However, Woodall in Lyon Circuit Court ordered the sentences to be carried out concurrently, meaning all will be served at the same time.

Harrison's attorney, Andrea Moore, asked the judge for a probated sentence. She sought leniency based upon Harrison's clean record prior to the July 2018 discovery of missing funds, the fact that all offenses were non-violent, that she has spent 13 months in jail already and that she has taken responsibility for the crimes, including agreeing to pay $17,000 in restitution to the city.

Commonwealth's Attorney Carrie Ovey-Wiggins argued that Harrison was not a good candidate for probation based upon the premeditation and continuance of the crime.

"She just helped herself to it," Ovey-Wiggins offered, adding than an audit showed Harrision began taking money her first month on the job and continued thereafter until getting caught.

The prosecutor also argued that the $17,000 in restitution agreed upon by both Katie and Clayton Harrision does not tell the entire story, as it was about $31,000 in public funds stolen by the couple. Ovey-Wiggins explained that as Katie Harrison was bonded by the city, about $14,000 was returned as part of a bond settlement.

Woodall denied a probated sentenced based upon the seriousness of the offenses, which included 24 counts of second-degree forgery, one count of tampering with physical evidence, one count of abuse of public trust, two counts of theft of more than $10,000, one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of property and 11 counts of tampering with public records.

Facing three years in jail, Clayton Harrison's counsel, Mary Rohrer, also asked for a probated sentence based upon his 416 days served and having made good use of his time behind bars by becoming a trusty at Caldwell County Jail and completing Celebrate Recovery, an addiction recovery program.

"With supervision, he is an excellent candidate for probation," Rohrer said.

But Ovey-Wiggins strongly opposed leniency on Clayton Harrision, who also worked for the City of Kuttawa at the time of the crimes, saying that he helped his wife steal the funds and benefited from the money.

Woodall agreed.

"You are less to blame in this case than Ms. Harrison, but less culpable does not mean not culpable," the judge told the defendant.

He ruled that a probated sentence would be insufficient punishment, so Clayton Harrision will serve three years concurrently for 10 counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument, one count of theft of more than $10,000, one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of property and one count of theft of more than $500.

Both were remanded to the custody of corrections.

The Harrisons were arrested just more than a year ago after missing city funds were discovered in July 2018.

But it wasn't until November of last year that authorities were able to locate the pair, who had fled to Sevierville, Tennessee. Clayton Harrison was arrested during a traffic stop. Katie Harrison turned herself in days after her husband's arrest. They were extradited to Lyon County soon after.