A former commonwealth’s attorney with extensive experience prosecuting criminals stands trial in Lexington this week on the other end of a case — as a defendant.
Ronnie Goldy, the 51-year-old former state prosecutor for Bath, Menifee, Montgomery and Rowan counties, is charged with six counts of honest services wire fraud, six counts of using interstate communication to commit bribery and two counts of federal program bribery. He was indicted and taken into federal custody by the FBI in August. His trial began Tuesday with opening arguments.
The allegations laid out in the indictment stem from a relationship Goldy had with Misty Helton, a woman who faced prosecution in Goldy’s jurisdiction. Goldy allegedly solicited and accepted sexually explicit photographs and videos from her.
In exchange, Goldy used his position to benefit Helton, who had pleaded guilty to multiple crimes within Goldy’s jurisdiction between 2015 and 2020, the indictment alleged. Some of her charges included drug trafficking, conspiracy to commit assault, fraud, receiving stolen property and identify theft, according to court testimony Tuesday.
Prosecutors: Former attorney abused his power
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Boone began opening statements Tuesday by saying Goldy abused his position to receive “whatever sexual gratification he could.”
On different occasions, Goldy allegedly agreed to ask that Helton be released from jail, have arrest warrants withdrawn, and have her previously-impounded property returned.
Boone said evidence shown during the trial will prove Goldy used his position as the commonwealth’s attorney to subvert the criminal legal system, and help put Helton back on the streets in return for sexually explicit photos, videos and meet-ups.
During opening statements, Boone said Goldy sent many messages through Facebook, and even asked Helton what strip club she worked at so he could come watch her. Goldy allegedly was so enticed by the photos he received that he was eager to meet up with Helton, and requested video.
Boone said Tuesday he intends to have court officials from the 21st Judicial Circuit — the circuit Goldy was a prosecutor in — testify on the witness stand. Boone said that will include several judges, prosecutors and public defenders.
Helton will also testify against Goldy. Boone alleges Goldy told many of the “key players” of the county court system on numerous occasions that Helton was a family member, or that she was working as an informant with police, in efforts to get her released.
Goldy is also expected to testify, according to statements made in court Tuesday.
Defense: Goldy trying to ‘help’ woman through court cases
Michael Curtis, Goldy’s attorney, said opening statements were a road map for jurors, and that Boone’s statement had a lot of “potholes.”
Curtis — who still actively represents clients formerly indicted by Goldy — said that at no time over the course of Goldy’s contact with Helton did he ever request nude photos in exchange for favors.
Curtis said Helton was a heavy drug user with a bad childhood and no guidance. Because of this, he claimed Goldy offered his help to her because he had the loose belief that she could possibly be related. According to Curtis, Goldy’s father had family ties in Salt Lick, where many of Helton’s family resides.
“What he did may be immoral, but that does not make him guilty,” Curtis said. “Being stupid with words do not make you guilty. (The prosecution) has to prove that he knowingly and intentionally did those things.”
The jury was selected prior to opening statements and is made up of seven men and seven women. Two of the jurors are alternates.
Goldy resigned from his position effective Feb. 28, 2023, after articles of impeachment against him were drafted in the House of Representatives. The state Senate voted unanimously in March to impeach Goldy, which is the first time this action was taken in 135 years.
A former boyfriend of Helton’s took screenshots of the Facebook messages between the two and provided them to a Louisville attorney, which prompted an initial investigation.