UPDATED: Head of Democratic super PAC charged with theft by deception, forgery, possession of stolen birth certificate and Social Security card

07/25/2017 06:25 PM

The director of a Democratic super PAC has been jailed on charges of theft by deception, forgery and possessing stolen vital statistic records after Lexington police discovered her depositing fraudulent checks and found another person’s birth certificate and Social Security card at her residence.

Grace Wise, 25, of Lexington, is charged with one count of theft by deception over $10,000, four counts of theft by deception under $10,000 and one count of second-degree forgery, according to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Division of Community Corrections’ website.

Brenna Angel, spokeswoman for Lexington police, said in an email Tuesday evening that an investigation by the department’s Financial Crimes Unit found that Wise had deposited fraudulent checks into a recently opened checking account.

“She was able to withdraw $6,000 and she attempted to negotiate a forged check in the amount of $15,000,” Angel said in the email.

When executing a search warrant at Wise’s residence Tuesday, police found another person’s birth certificate and Social Security card as well as marijuana, Angel said.

“Those findings resulted in the charges of Possession of Stolen Vital Statistics Certificate/Records, Possession of Marijuana, and Receiving Stolen Property,” she said.

Her status with Back the Bluegrass, and that of the group itself, is unclear. Abigail Hilliard, the group’s former spokeswoman, said she resigned her position with the group on Tuesday.

“As a victim in the case I resigned from the PAC earlier today and therefore can not offer you an official statement,” she wrote in an email to Pure Politics. “Being that I am a victim in the case, I would ask that you respect my wishes not to discuss the case further.”

Online records show that Wise was also charged with theft by deception under $10,000 in Clark County Feb. 2.

Wise helped launch Back the Bluegrass in May, hoping to attract millennials to run for political office.

The super PAC named a 12-member board earlier this month, including Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, state Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, Emerge Kentucky Executive Director Blair Haydon, Lead Kentucky Founder Jacqueline Coleman and Colmon Eldridge, a former aide to Gov. Steve Beshear, among others.

But Grimes’ office says her name was mistakenly included in the listing and that she never agreed to serve as a board member for Back the Bluegrass.

“Sec. Grimes did not agree or acquiesce to serve on the board of Back the Bluegrass,” Grimes spokesman Bradford Queen said in a statement. “Secretary Grimes and her office have no affiliation with the organization or with Ms. Wise. The use of Sec. Grimes’ name and elected position was unauthorized and without the knowledge or permission of Sec. Grimes or her office.”

Haydon also indicated that she didn’t authorize Back the Bluegrass to use her name or that of her organization in its board listing.

Wise had previously served as a staffer on Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2016, field director for Gray’s mayoral campaign in 2014 and political director of Elisabeth Jensen’s 6th Congressional District campaign earlier in 2014.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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