Pike County prosecutor resigns after charging Sheriff; Boyd dealt with bankruptcy as campaign began

By Ann Maher and Steve Korris | Jun 5, 2014

Pike County State’s Attorney Carrie Boyd, who filed misconduct charges against the sheriff who had investigated the cocaine overdose death of St. Clair County judge Joseph Christ, resigned abruptly on June 2.

Boyd filed a criminal information charge against Paul Petty on May 16 saying that in his dual role as Coroner, he failed to have blood drawn from the body of heroin overdose victim Shanda Lopez before embalming. The case is unrelated to Christ’s. According to local news reports, two men were charged in relation to Lopez’s death and one is accused of drug-induced homicide.

Petty investigated Christ's March 10, 2013 death at the Pike County hunting lodge owned by attorney Bruce Cook of Belleville. Christ had been at the lodge with former judge Michael Cook at the time. Cook is now serving a two year sentence on heroin possession and weapons charges.

Petty has referred questions to his lawyer Richard Frazier of Springfield, and Frazier provided motions he filed on Petty’s behalf.

In a motion to dismiss the charges Frazier wrote, “The information here fails to demonstrate how the defendant failed to execute a mandatory duty and also fails to demonstrate how this alleged conduct constitutes an offense.”

Frazier wrote that Illinois law provides absolute immunity for public employees executing and enforcing any law unless the conduct is willful and wanton.

Frazier also wrote that the state didn’t allege Petty obtained a personal advantage.
He asked for a special prosecutor, writing that Boyd may be a witness.

Adams County associate judge Chet Vahle, on the case by special assignment, has begun looking for a special prosecutor.

Boyd, 36, has not responded to calls from the Record.

When she stepped down earlier this week she had served less than half of a four-year term to which she was elected in November 2012.

Four years earlier, at age 29, she and her husband Ryan Culton were featured in a September 2008 Central Illinois Business feature titled “Forty under 40,” each having nominated one another to the list.

Boyd had been an associate attorney at a Champaign firm, but moved back to her hometown of Pittsfield in 2011.

Rumors of bankruptcy that followed her as she ran for office turn out true. But she didn’t sign the bankruptcy petition, her husband Culton signed it.

He filed it on Nov. 30, 2011, two weeks after owners of a Champaign real estate business sued him and Boyd in a dispute over $13,135.

Culton worked for an engineering firm at the time, making about $62,000.

Now he runs the office in the Illinois Department of Labor that inspects carnival and amusement rides. Last year he made $94,049.

Through the bankruptcy he retained a home he had bought in Pittsfield the previous summer, in his name only.

This year he turned ownership over to her. They have not owned it jointly at any time. At a public event in her successful 2012 campaign, according to a local news report, someone waved a docket sheet from a court case and asked her about it.

She said it was dismissed. But, she didn’t say it was dismissed due to Culton’s bankruptcy.

When she returned to Pike County from Champaign she told voters her sole focus since law school was to serve them as state’s attorney.

Culton’s bankruptcy petition was still pending when she started her campaign.

It showed:

- Culton sold a home for $239,000 in 2010, with “negative closing.”
- In May 2011, he surrendered premises worth about $500,000, on a lease with option.
- Liabilities of $240,911 in secured claims and $247,285 in unsecured claims, for a total of $488,196.
- Assets of $220,000 in the Pittsfield home and $35,552 in personal property, for a total of $255,552.
- Student loan obligations of $132,004.
- Culton owed the Internal Revenue Service $25,000.

The petition also identified his spouse as a self employed attorney.

Boyd had previously worked at Erwin, Martinkus & Cole, Ltd. in Champaign. The firm did not return a call seeking the date she left.

Culton’s bankruptcy petition reported Boyd’s monthly income at $3,297.

It stated, “Spouse’s income fluctuates; above is an average over past six months. Recently relocated practice to Pittsfield, Ill.”

Their fortunes quickly reversed.

She started her campaign in January 2012, securing her first contribution from Laborers Local 231 in Pekin.

In March she won the primary.

In April the Department of Labor hired Culton.

In November voters elected Boyd.

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