Kentucky lawmaker accused of bribery may ask for trial delay

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2014 8:02 PM

(Reuters) - A Kentucky state lawmaker who pleaded not guilty to a bribery charge this week is considering asking for a postponement of his January trial date, his lawyer said on Friday.

Representative W. Keith Hall, a Democrat from eastern Kentucky who is also a coal mine owner, entered a not guilty plea on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pikeville to charges that he paid a state government inspector more than $46,000 to keep him from reporting violations at the mines.

His lawyer, Brent Caldwell, said in an email to Reuters that he was considering asking the judge in the case to put off the Jan. 5 trial date, which was set on Wednesday, but had not yet decided whether he would do so.

The now-retired inspector accused of taking the bribe, Kelly Shortridge, is also set for trial on the same date.

A federal grand jury charged Shortridge with accepting a bribe, extortion and making false statements to the FBI. The extortion count carries a term of up to 20 years in prison.

After Hall entered his plea of not guilty of bribery, Judge Edward Adkins released him under court supervision. If convicted of the bribery charge, Hall faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

Hall, who was first elected in 2000, lost a primary election in May and his term ends at the end of the year.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Louisville, Kentucky; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Beech)