By Nathan Baker
A judge’s change of heart means Billy Gene McFadden will serve no jail time — and his wife won’t be denied his retirement benefits.
But Judge Robert Cupp made it clear Tuesday whose welfare he was concerned with: “I’m not doing this for the defendant,” he said. “I’m doing this for his wife.”
The former leader of Carter County’s First Utility District was convicted more than two years ago on theft, fraud and official misconduct charges.
On Tuesday, Cupp reduced McFadden’s original sentence of one year in jail followed by 15 years of probation to probation with judicial diversion, which means the ex-utilities manager will serve no jail time and his record will be wiped clean of the convictions at the end of his probation.
After the conviction and sentencing in January 2011 that found him guilty of receiving $11,089.96 in excess payments from the utility district, McFadden appealed the 12-month sentence, citing his failing health.
Cupp said he initially handed down the jail time to send a message to other public officials about misconduct and defrauding taxpayers, but said Tuesday after considering the full effects of the punishment, he had a change of heart.