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Salyersville Independent

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SALYERSVILLE – A Magoffin County grand jury released the following two indictments on December 2:

Eddie Patrick, 64, of Mash Fork, in Salyersville, is charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse, victim under 12 years of age (a Class C felony). According to the indictment, on or about April 1 through May 9, 2020, Patrick allegedly subjected a child under the age of 12 years old to sexual contact.

Patrick was arrested on a warrant and taken to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center on December 6, where he has since been released, with an arraignment in the case set for December 16 at 10 a.m. at the Magoffin County Justice Center.

The grand jury also indicted Steven Shawn Rowe, 44, of Trace Fork, in Gunlock, after hearing evidence from a special prosecutor from Floyd County, charging him with one count of theft by unlawful taking or disposition (Class C felony); two counts of theft by deception (Class D felonies); one count of second-degree forgery (Class D felony); and one count of fraudulent insurance acts (Class D felony). According to the indictment, on or about August 2014 through August 2019, Rowe allegedly took money from Salyersville Water Works, where he was employed at the time, in an amount in excess of $20,000. The indictment also accuses Rowe of obtaining money from Salyersville Water Works as compensation for work he did not perform on two separate days in August 2015, totaling $2,350.88. He is also accused of signing the name of another person to a continuing disability claim form for AFLAC Insurance, as well as presenting written information in support of a claim for payment, knowing his statement contained false information and the claim resulted in him receiving $2,310 as a result of the fraudulent submission.

The Commonwealth requested a warrant for Rowe, but he has not been arrested as of press time. A motion hour in the case is scheduled for December 16 at 10 a.m., in which his attorney is asking the judge to recall the bench warrant.

The charges against Rowe, who is the former superintendent of SWW, reportedly came from an investigation after Salyersville Mayor James “Pete” Shepherd took office, when the city took over oversight of Salyersville Water Works and hired an outside company to get the water district back in the black. When money couldn’t be accounted for, the investigation was turned over to Kentucky State Police’s forensic auditors, resulting in this case.

Shepherd told Mortimer Media Group on Friday, “After I took over and Water Works was in such bad financial situation, and they hadn’t had any audits for a few years back, we brought individuals from Pikeville, UMG, in to take over the Water Works for six months to try to get it in good standing and everything back in order, and then we started having regular audits. Each time our regular audits came around, it seemed we were having some discrepancies of money spent here and there and it was hard to figure out exactly what was happening. Finally, about three years ago, we asked state police to come in with forensic accountants. They come in and started looking over our bookwork and started finding these discrepancies, and really honed it down to some individual things that were not good – in fact, were terrible – and we went from there. They took over the investigation and they come up with the charges.”
Shepherd said when KSP forensic auditors told them what they believed was happening, they addressed the concerns with Rowe and he was let go.

When asked about the “excess of $20,000” allegedly spent, Shepherd said there were multiple credit card purchases, from a generator to diapers and household items.
“It just accumulated and, in fact, we think it was more than $20,000, but that is what they found,” Shepherd said.

He also explained that they found evidence that Rowe was charging customers for work done, almost as if he were an independent contractor, when SWW had done the work, getting paid double for the work.

“He would charge $1,100 for a water line hookup at say the library, and he got the money, while Water Works hooked them up. It was kind of under the table. He’d had his own receipt for a company, getting money for Water Works work.”

Shepherd said the individuals and entities paying this separate “business” thought it was all “on the up and up,” noting it didn’t appear to be a kickback situation involving anyone else.

As for what this means for SWW and the city, Shepherd said, “We’ve done really well at the Water Works and we’re doing so good now. We’ve got money in the bank, and we were able to borrow a little money to buy the tanks and get the tank here in Salyersville done, but I think the worst thing is the disappointment in the individual. I trusted him. I think we all trusted him, and it’s devastating to have your faith in somebody and think they’re doing a great job for you and find out they didn’t live up to their part of the bargain when they are working for the Salyersville Water Works. It’s really devastating for me. He’s a good guy and I liked him and would have done anything in the world we could get done, but it’s just hard to know the individual would do this.”

Shepherd said having a strong commission and keeping up with the regular audits will ensure these things do not happen and will be caught easily if they do.

Rowe worked for SWW for a total of 23 years, just four years shy of being able to retire, serving as superintendent from 2012 until his resignation in 2019.

Editor’s Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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