Rice pleaded not guilty March 18 and indicated he wanted to enter the court’s pretrial diversion program.
If allowed into the program by Howard Superior Court 3 Judge Doug Tate, Rice would enter a plea of guilty, and the court would then withhold conviction if Rice does not commit any additional offenses for a set period of time, usually one year. At that point, the plea would be set aside, and Rice would have no criminal record.
Rice’s trial date is scheduled for May 31, unless a plea or diversion agreement is filed before that.
Rice could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
He served four years on the board but wasn’t reappointed after his term expired at the end of 2012.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, who appointed Rice, said he wasn’t aware of Rice’s legal issues when he decided to replace him last December.
“We were just rotating people. There are a lot of talented people in Kokomo who want to serve, and we were just giving someone else a chance,” Goodnight said.
Rice was also at the center of controversy last year when the liquor board voted to deny a permit application filed by local bar owner Dan Dumoulin II.
It later emerged that Rice had been dating Dumoulin’s sister, and that Dumoulin and his sister had fallen out with each other.
A state hearing officer overturned the denial last week and said Rice should have disclosed the relationship and recused himself from the vote.
Rice ran as a Democrat for Howard County Auditor in 2008, losing to Ann Wells.
Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org