In a news release, the agencies stated that the Louisville Public Corruption Civil Rights Task Force “formalizes a relationship started some time ago,” as its members will identify, investigate and pursue prosecution of public officials or public entities violating federal or state criminal statutes.
Last year, the local FBI office and LMPD also created a violent crime task force focused on the intersection of gangs and the illegal drug trade, as Louisville was coming of a record-high total of criminal homicides in 2016.
“It is essential that the public have confidence in its elected officials and public employees,” stated LMPD Chief Steve Conrad in the release. “This task force will allow us to improve our investigations into corruption and violations of civil rights so that the public can have the highest confidence that those who violate their trust will be held accountable.”
The FBI has similar public corruption task forces in 49 cities, including Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
“This announcement formalizes the work the FBI and local law enforcement have successfully done together before,” stated Amy Hess, special agent in charge of the Louisville FBI office. “Combining forces puts us in a stronger position to root out those who violate the public trust.”
The Louisville FBI office in 2015 first launched an initiative designed to solicit the public’s help in identifying public corruption. The following year, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office arrested and charged former a Beshear administration official, Tim Longmeyer, on a public corruption charge, stemming from his involvement in a fraud, money laundering, bribery and kickback scheme. Longmeyer pleaded guilty, one of five convictions related to that case, with another defendant scheduled for trial this summer.
Insider Louisville first reported this week that the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice just initiated an investigation of Louisville Metro Council, related to potential race-based discrimination under the Fair Housing Act when it voted last year to block an affordable housing development for seniors in an affluent area near Prospect.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was also quoted in the news release announcing the new task force, stating that the FBI “has been a great partner in battling violent crime in our community, and I look forward to our agencies building on that coordination and collaboration as they work in this area.”