On Thursday, August 24, 2023, the Supreme Court of Kentucky suspended attorney David Lee Hargrove for mishandling funds while serving as Commonwealth’s Attorney of Graves County.
The case is entitled “Kentucky Bar Association v. David Lee Hargrove” with case no. 2023-SC-0149-KB.
Hargrove allegedly failed to follow statutory procedures in managing forfeited funds and used them for unauthorized expenditures from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s escrow account, which he also commingled with his private practice funds. Hargrove’s actions violated KRS 218A.420, and he was indicted for Abuse of Public Trust, later pleading guilty to official misconduct in the first degree. He reimbursed the Prosecutor’s Advisory Council (PAC) and received a probated jail sentence.
The Opinion and Order states:
“Hargrove became disgruntled with this entire process, complaining that the length of time and effort required for submissions to PAC was burdensome, as well as complaining PAC did not respond to expenditure requests on a few occasions.”
The Opinion and Order continues:
“Sometime around 2013 or 2014, after conversing with some of his counterparts in other counties, Hargrove decided to wholly skip sending funds to PAC. Instead, he would use funds directly from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s escrow account to pay expenses that he deemed to be associated with his official duties. Notably, Hargrove was the only signatory for the escrow account.”
The trial commissioner recommended a 150-day suspension, trust account training, and payment of proceedings’ costs. Hargrove, on the other hand, argued for a 90-day suspension due to his lack of prior complaints and testimonials of his honesty.
The Supreme Court of Kentucky adopted the trial commissioner’s findings and recommendations. Hargrove was suspended for 150 days, and required to notify clients and courts, complete trust account training, and cover proceedings’ costs. The court emphasized Hargrove’s careless handling of funds but noted that he did not purposefully enrich himself.
The Disposition states:
“Based on the Trial Commissioner’s report, it is ORDERED: 1. David Lee Hargrove is suspended from the practice of law for one hundred fifty (150) days.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Hargrove is a business attorney in Mayfield, Kentucky. He attended the Northern Kentucky University – Salmon P. Chase College of Law. He acquired his law license in Kentucky in 1988.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.