The mood in Morganfield on a Wednesday afternoon was as somber as the weather. Surprise and disappointment took over on this rainy day in Union County.
A lot of people didn’t care to open about the charges against their Judge-Executive, Jody Jenkins, though many had already heard the news just an hour after it broke.
“Makes me feel bad,” Dennis Barnaby says simply. “I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t step down to begin with, or another judge step in and do something about it.”
Jenkins faces a federal indictment on four counts, including wire fraud and public corruption. The indictment stems from a federal investigation which began in 2014.
Union County Fiscal Court purchased several pieces of heavy equipment, which were later tied to an elaborate theft ring operating out of Vanderburgh County. Investigators allege Jenkins solicited and accepted cash payments of approximately $20,000 during the process.
Most people on the streets of Morganfield are sad to see county leadership come to this.
“A lot of times, small towns, these things just get swept under the rug,” Clay Divine says. “Nobody expected anything to come from it.”
Magistrate Gary Day serves alongside Jenkins on the Fiscal Court. As far as he is concerned, Jody Jenkins will continue to sit at Judge-Executive.
Day isn’t sure what happens next, but he plans to meet with other county leaders in the coming days to decide how county government moves on.
Moving on is exactly what Tammy Buckman wants to see.
“It disappoints me,” she says, “it doesn’t make me feel good about who we have in office. It’s not fair to the residents of Union County.”
Barnaby echoes the disappointment. “He’s a public figure and people look up to him around here.”
“Union County is a laughing stock of the state right now,” Divine adds.
Federal officials say they will not ask for Jenkins to be detained before trial, so he will likely not be jailed unless he faces time in prison if convicted.
Calls to Jenkins and four other magistrates who serve on Fiscal Court were not returned.
“If he was involved in it to the extent they say he was, he needs to pay for it,” Buckman says.