HARRODSBURG - Former Mercer County Clerk Ronnie Compton was sentenced to a year in prison Tuesday, but he won't have to serve it if he pays back about $11,000 and stays out of trouble for five years.
Mercer Circuit Judge Darren Peckler signed off of the deal recommended by prosecutors that allows Compton to enter a felony diversion program rather than go to jail.
Compton entered an Alford plea earlier to a charge that he failed to deposit $11,123 in fees and other monies collected in his office in 2006. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is enough evidence for a conviction if the case goes to trial.
Compton declined to comment after sentencing Tuesday, but his attorney, Shannon Sexton of Covington, said his client maintains his innocence.
"He has never admitted his guilt to this," Sexton said.
Compton, who had no prior criminal record, agreed to the plea deal because he did not have to admit guilt and avoids jail time if he meets the condition of the diversion program, his attorney said. "Mr. Compton had a very good case for trial but didn't want to go through a trial and risk his freedom," Sexton said.