A Bath County grand jury has indicted Judge Beth Maze with two felony counts of forgery and one felony count of tampering with public records.
Maze is the Chief Circuit Court Judge in the 21st District that represents Rowan, Bath, Montgomery and Menifee counties.
The criminal charges against Maze stem from alleged actions that resulted in pending ethics charges against her by the Judicial Conduct Commission.
The conduct commission can impose sanctions ranging from a private reprimand to removal from office.
The criminal charges are class D felonies, each subject to one to five years in prison.
Maze was suspended with pay effective Oct. 2, pending the outcome of the formal proceedings by the judicial commission.
She is alleged to have issued court orders for a drug test for her ex-husband, Donald Maze, after he was arrested in Bath County on multiple charges, including possession of a controlled substance.
But she signed the first order “Bath County Attorney” and the second “County Attorney and Commonwealth Attorney,” according the commission’s complaint.
She allegedly also signed attorney Michael Campbell’s name on the line on the order designated for “Attorney for Defendant.”
According to the commission’s complaint, both the Commonwealth and county attorneys said they’d never seen the court orders.
Maze said she did contact Bath County Jailer Earl Willis and District Judge William Roberts about her ex-husband’s arrest, but says only to apprise them of “a potential conflict of interest.”
She denies seeking to influence the treatment of her former husband and has said that she believes anyone facing the situation her former husband faced has a right to a drug test in order to preserve evidence.
Maze also said she inadvertently completed two orders in the same manner she had completed other orders which were on a different AOC form order.
According to the judge, she did not complete either order with any intent to deceive or mislead anyone.
She said she took old orders to her residence when she was cleaning out the circuit judge’s office in Rowan County in June 2011, in preparation of the move to the new judicial center and did not realize the wording on the bottom of the older order was different.
Thomas E. Clay, Maze’s attorney, said last week that Maze intends to plead not guilty and fight the charges.
“We intend to do so vigorously,” Clay said. “There was no intent to deceive anybody or defraud anybody.”
Clay added that the grand jury turned down Maze’s request to provide her side of the story to the panel.
He said if she’d been able to speak to the jury, there might not have been an indictment.
Maze has received a summons to appear for arraignment in early December.
Donald Maze previously served as Bath County Attorney before he was convicted of vote-buying in the 2016 election and sentenced to prison. He was subsequently disbarred.
He has entered an Alford Plea — meaning he does not admit guilt but recognizes the evidence is sufficient for a likely conviction. He is awaiting sentencing.
Grand Jury witnesses in the judge’s case included Detective Chad Bowling with the Kentucky State Police, Bath County Jailer Earl Willis, and Attorney Michael Campbell.