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By Calen McKinney
Landmark News Service
A sheriff’s deputy has been fired for allegedly breaking the law he worked to uphold.
Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputy William “Billy” Rice was charged Tuesday morning with federal drug crimes and taken to a jail in Bowling Green.
After his arrest, Taylor County Sheriff Allen Newton fired Rice, who had worked as a sheriff’s deputy for nearly eight years.
A complaint filed in federal court accuses Rice of selling steroids in Taylor County on three occasions.
In a statement released at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, Newton said Kentucky State Police officials told him at 10 a.m. that morning that Rice was being arrested.
Rice was arrested in Campbellsville and then taken to Bowling Green.
“It is a shock to all personnel at the sheriff’s department,” Newton wrote in a news release. “It is not only our responsibility to police the community we serve, but just as important to police ourselves. This office will not tolerate this type of behavior out of any of our personnel.”
Newton said he wants the public to know he will be transparent about Rice’s arrest and charges.
“I just want the public to know we’re not hiding anything,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Newton said he and his office staff will handle the situation in a professional manner and work with the KSP.
“As head of this department, I will not make any excuses or attempt to sugarcoat the seriousness of this situation. It will be handled in a professional manner and I will continue to assist in the investigation,” he stated in the release.
“Rice is now part of the criminal justice system and, if found guilty, will have to deal with the repercussions of his own actions. I have a lot of hard working officers in this department and the actions of one officer should not reflect upon the department as a whole.”
According to a KSP Drug Enforcement Special Investigations news release, officials arrested Rice at his Dowell Road home. He was then released to the U.S. Marshall’s Service and taken before a federal judge.
Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl will preside over Rice’s case. As of press time, there were no upcoming court dates in the case.
Amanda E. Gregory of the U.S. Attorney Office in Louisville will prosecute Rice. At press time, no attorney had been listed as representing Rice.
According to the federal criminal complaint, filed Tuesday morning by FBI Special Agent Virginia MacHenry, Rice allegedly sold steroids to a confidential informant on May 17 and Aug. 8 and 24.
The complaint states that the informant arranged to buy the steroids from Rice through text messages and phone calls.
Law enforcement officials observed a sale on May 17 and recorded it. That day, the complaint states, Rice allegedly arrived at the sale wearing his sheriff’s uniform and driving his sheriff’s vehicle. He was also wearing a pistol on his hip during the transaction.
After the sale, the informant gave the steroids - a bottle containing a clear yellow liquid - to KSP officials. It was taken to a laboratory for analysis and was determined to be boldenone undecylenate, also known as equipoise, a steroid most commonly used on horses.
On Aug. 8, according to the complaint, the informant again arranged to buy $150 worth of steroids from Rice. Rice allegedly told the informant that the bottle would be in the front seat of his sheriff’s vehicle, which would be unlocked and parked in his driveway at his home.
After not finding the steroids, the complaint states, the informant called Rice and the two met to complete the sale. That bottle contained nandrolone decanoate.
On Aug. 22, according to the complaint, the informant arranged to buy $1,000 worth of steroids from Rice. Rice allegedly told the informant that his supplier would deliver the steroids on Aug. 24.
That day, the complaint states, Rice told the informant to leave $1,000 in his sheriff’s vehicle by 7 a.m. KSP provided the money for the transaction. Later, KSP officials saw Rice meet the person they believed is his supplier.
After Rice left that meeting, KSP officials conducted a traffic stop and the suspected supplier let them search his vehicle and wallet. They found the $1,000 they gave the informant to purchase the steroids from Rice.
The supplier told KSP officials he had just sold steroids to Rice, who gave him the $1,000 for the drugs.
Later that day, Rice met with the informant to complete the sale. Law enforcement officials watched and recorded that meeting.
The informant gave KSP officials 10 bottles of liquid steroids he got from Rice, labeled as testosterone enanthate from a pharmaceutical company in Massachusetts.
According to federal court records, Rice has been charged with committing the crimes, but not yet formally indicted.
Newton said Rice was off duty when he was arrested. Part-time and other employees will be used to cover Rice’s shifts, Newton said.
Rice graduated from the police academy in June 2005 and began working for the sheriff’s office thereafter. In December 2011, Rice received the office’s Deputy of the Year award.
“Law enforcement changed my life,” he told the News-Journal in 2011.
Rice, who said he had gotten into trouble with the police twice while growing up, said he has worked several different types of jobs, but he enjoys being a deputy.
“I know if I ever messed up anymore ... it just helped me keep my focus. Wanting to be a police officer made me police myself.”
Editor’s note: Calen McKinney is a staff wrter for the Central Kentucky News-Journal in Campbellsville.