This story appears in the Wednesday, June 19 newspaper on Page A1.
Note: This story has been updated to clarify in which court the case is being heard.
JACKSON — Jackson Mayor Randy Heath is facing misdemeanor criminal charges alleging he had an unlawful interest in a public contract while serving as mayor.
Heath, 64, is in his fourth term as mayor; he announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.
He faces six counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, and four counts of violation of restrictions during or after employment. All the charges are first-degree misdemeanors.
Heath denied the charges in an interview with The Courier on Tuesday.
His alleged offenses date from 2015 to 2017; the specific dates are listed as “on or about” March 18, 2015; March 31, 2016; and April 20, 2017.
Three of the unlawful interest in a public contract counts stem from his involvement on the Jackson Board of Control over those three years. The charges allege the Board of Control authorized contracts that were not put out to competitive bidding, and that Heath “knowingly occupied a position of profit” related to those contracts. The charges do not specify what the contracts were for or what Heath’s alleged “position of profit” was.
The three other unlawful interest in a public control counts are related specifically to Heath’s role as mayor. The counts allege Heath “knowingly had an interest in the profits or benefits of a public contract entered into by ... the City of Jackson.” The counts do not specify what those contracts were, or what Heath’s alleged interest was.
As noted, there are four other counts alleging the violation of restrictions during or after employment. Heath is accused of violating state law which prohibits a public official from using their office to receive valuable items or promise to give such items to others.
Three of those four counts stem from 2015, 2016 and 2017. They allege Heath: “did use or authorize the use of the authority or influence of his office to secure something of value, to wit, funding in the amount of $6,000.00, or the promise or offer of something of value that was of such character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon (Heath) with respect to his duties.”
The fourth count of the “violations of restrictions” charge stems from March 2016; Heath is accused of soliciting or accepting “something” of value that was of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon (Heath) with respect to his duties.
The charges do not specify what Heath is alleged to have accepted or promised, nor do they specify how Heath is alleged to have used his position as mayor to violate those laws.
In an interview on Tuesday, Heath told The Courier he is “totally innocent of all the charges.”
“(I) intend to vigorously defend myself,” Heath said. “I have gone out of my way to ensure everything I did was always proper and I believe that the evidence will clearly prove my innocence.”
On Tuesday the case was transferred from common pleas court to Jackson County Municipal Court, where misdemeanor cases are normally heard.