A chance at redemption for ex-banker

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Our lead story this week is about a man who many have told me is a good man. A good man who, unfortunately, did a bad thing.

By many accounts, William J. Covington is a good person, a good community member. Some say the fact that he was convicted of bank fraud in U.S. District Court last year reflects only that his good intentions led him astray.

Nonetheless, Mr. Covington plead to, and was convicted of, a very serious federal charge.

For the felony bank fraud conviction, Covington was ordered to three years in prison and ordered to repay the $13.4 million he was accused of defrauding from Farmers Deposit Bank via fictitious or inappropriately adjusted loans.

By some accounts I’ve heard, Covington was just trying to help people out. A noble intention, yes. But a federal crime, nonetheless.

The reach of this particular situation went beyond the city limits of Eminence.

Those actions caused Farmers to report false financial information to its parent company, Premier, who in turn filed reports with the SEC containing false and misleading financial statements from 2001-2003. Specifically, Farmers and Premier overstated 2001 profits and understated 2002 losses.

These are serious, serious accusations.

And these are actions for which Covington served his sentence. Does that make this any less of a story? Absolutely not.

Eminence Independent Schools is giving Covington a second chance in life, and that in itself is a great story. It should not diminish the scope of Covington’s previous actions, but serve more as an opportunity for the disgraced former bank president to redeem himself in a community that no doubt was shocked by his fall.

Kentucky state law is clear — though he was convicted of a felony, Covington is allowed to teach. His crime was not violent, nor was it sexual in nature.

With his time served, Covington has a right to a second chance and a right to redemption.

My hope is that it is a chance well earned, and that some day, we can share with you Covington’s story, in his own words.

Jonna can be reached at editor@hclocal.com