MAYSVILLE, Ky. - A multi-county drug task force at the center of an I-Team investigation will cease to exist at the end of March, but officials insist the move has nothing to do with an ongoing criminal investigation of the fired task force director.
The Buffalo Trace/Gateway Narcotics Task Force has been dissolved, according to its board chairman, Mason County Sheriff Patrick Boggs.
The decision comes six weeks after the I-Team raised questions about policing for profit by the former director of the seven-county drug task force. Agent Tim Fegan was fired late last year after a surprise audit revealed more than $90,000 was stolen from the task force.
Documents filed in response to Fegan's unemployment application show he's the only suspect in the alleged theft. A special unit of the Kentucky State Police has been looking into the thefts, and a source close to the investigation told the I-Team the results would be turned over to federal prosecutors within the next 30 days.
Fegan has not been charged. Attempts to reach him for comment have been unsuccessful.
The task force board voted this week to dissolve the agency, but Sheriff Boggs insisted that the decision had nothing to do with the ongoing criminal investigation into its fired director.
The sheriff told the I-Team that three major state and federal grants are set to expire at the end of June, and the local agencies that make up the rest of the task force budget are unable to fund the difference.
The I-Team investigation in January questioned Agent Fegan's tactics in the seizure of a pick-up truck from an accused drug trafficker who was eventually acquitted. In the weeks following the story on the truck forfeiture and the criminal investigation, at least one Northern Kentucky town voted to stop funding the task force.
The truck featured in the I-Team investigation remains in an impound lot. Joey Osborne, the man found not guilty of drug trafficking, and his mother, former Aberdeen police officer Jewell McLain, are waiting for a decision from the Kentucky Court of Appeals to see if they will get their truck back.
The remaining agents of the drug task force have been told their positions will no longer exist after March 31.
Sheriff Boggs said his deputies and the Maysville Police Department will begin conducting more drug investigations once the task force is gone.
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38-time Emmy winner Brendan Keefe was named Best Reporter by the Ohio Associated Press in 2011, and Best Photographer in 2012 and 2013. He serves as Anchor and Chief Investigator for 9 On Your Side.
Jason Law joined 9 On Your Side in January 2013 as a investigative reporter with the I-Team.