COVINGTON – A gaunt Bob Due, ex-finance director for the city of Covington, stood before a judge on Thursday and apologized to his former colleagues, the citizens of Covington, his family and friends for stealing $793,000 from the city where he was born, attended school, worked and built a life.

“With my reckless and selfless acts, I have harmed the people and institutions that I love and hold dear in my heart,” Due said quietly. “The fact that I breached the public trust that they gave to me is something I can’t apologize enough for.”

Investigators uncovered Due’s decade-long embezzlement scheme last fall, in which he wrote checks to himself, his wife, an ailing aunt and two fake vendors, leading to his arrest and an overhaul of checks and balances in the city’s finance department.

Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett decided that Due deserved 10 years in prison for his crimes, as long as he also fully repay the money he stole from the city.

“I see this as a serious aberration of an otherwise good person’s life,” said Bartlett, after reading several letters from Due’s supporters requesting leniency and getting an answer from Due as to why he decided to steal from his community.

In his answer, Due described the agony he felt as he witnessed many members of his family fall ill through the years.

He watched as his mother lost both her legs to diabetes, which eventually killed her. When a beloved aunt fell ill, he couldn’t “sit by and watch,” deciding instead to take money to help pay her medical bills.

Then he took money to pay for his childrens’ tuition at private universities, though not all of the stolen funds could ultimately be accounted for.

Former Covington city finance director Bob Due was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing from Covington.
The Enquirer/Patrick Reddy

Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders wanted Due to serve 15 years, particularly since he is eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence.

With the roughly 10 months Due has spent awaiting sentence, he could be released in less than two years, Sanders said.

“I’m surprised that the Commonwealth’s recommendation was not followed, I thought it was reasonable, maybe even a little too generous,” Sanders said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people in Covington who don’t like this outcome.”

Sanders is also concerned that the Due – despite agreeing to hand over his pension, and give a life insurance policy to the city – will never make the city whole.

Due, through his lawyer, was adamant that Due would do whatever it take to repay Covington. But the current plan is about $200,000 short, a city employee verified in court.

Due worked for the city for 14 years, after several decades working in private finance. Covington Commissioner Steve Frank said he first became concerned about the finance department when he participated in a city-wide audit in 2009.

“Personally (the sentence) doesn’t feel adequate,” Frank said. “This really set the city back in terms of the confidence people had in what we were doing.”

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen, who did a review of Covington’s financial operations after the scandal broke and made many recommendations to prevent future abuse, said he would have liked to “see (Due) punished to the full extent of the law” – which could have been up to 50 years, had Due been found guilty of all the charges at trial.

Edelen’s review revealed that Due had sole control of all finances and information technology in the city. Since then, the city has adopted many of the auditor’s recommendations and has submitted a plan for integrated the rest, Edelen said.

“The fact that he was able to operate in a vacuum showed there was a need for real reform in Covington City Hall,” Edelen said. “We are committed to being vigilant and making sure the city of Covington implements the recommendations. … It’s a culture. The culture of accountability will replace the culture that allowed Mr. Due to steal $800,000.”