Royalty indicted for perjury, misconduct

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Nelson County grand jury returns four counts, one felony and three misdemeanors

By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

Updated at 4:15 p.m. to include comment from Royalty's attorney. 

A Nelson County grand jury Wednesday indicted former Bardstown mayor John Royalty on four criminal counts for alleged actions while he was in office.

The charges included one felony count, first-degree perjury, and three misdemeanors comprising two charges of first-degree official misconduct and of one false swearing.

The charges stem from actions Royalty is accused of taking over the course of several months, from October last year up to his final moments in office as he testified in his own defense at his removal hearing presided over by the Bardstown City Council in April.

The perjury charge accuses Royalty of “making a material false statement which he did not believe while under oath during an official proceeding” on April 13. It is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The indictment does not specify what statement of Royalty’s was false. When contacted by The Kentucky Standard, Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry Geoghegan declined to comment on specifics of the charges.

Royalty testified for more than two hours in his own defense on April 13 during his removal hearing. During that testimony, he made several justifications for his actions while in office and said he never instructed a city IT worker to lie about the reason city council members’ iPads were collected by the city. That worker, Brandon Brewer, testified that the mayor ordered him to tell council members the city was recalling them for a software update when one was not needed. Brewer testified in April that Royalty’s directive to collect the tablets was so that Royalty could gain access to Kecia Copeland’s email.

Brewer was listed on the indictments as one of the grand jury witnesses Wednesday.

The two misdemeanor official misconduct charges stem from Royalty’s alleged orders to Brewer, sometime between Oct. 17 and Oct. 28.

One charge states “with the intent to injure another person, (Royalty) ordered a Bardstown City employee to perform duties under a false pretense, make false statements and/or ordered the employee to make an unauthorized review of a council member’s private emails.”

The other official misconduct charge was for “obtaining Bardstown City Council members’ computers for an unauthorized purpose,” according to the indictment.

The false swearing charge is connected to Royalty’s testimony on Dec. 12 during a deposition he gave involving a lawsuit against the city that was brought by former Bardstown Police Capt. Tom Roby, where he allegedly made a “false statement which he (did) not believe under oath.”

When contacted late Wednesday, Jason Floyd, with Hubbard Hubbard & Floyd, the firm that has represented Royalty on several civil legal matters including Royalty's removal, said it was too early to comment.

"These types of cases are very fact-sensitive, so until we know more, we have no comment," Floyd said.

Royalty is scheduled for arraignment on those charges at 9 a.m. Oct. 19.

His bond is set at $5,000 cash only, plus conditions.