Former Kentucky state lawmaker convicted of bribing mine inspector

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2015 5:36 PM

By Steve Bittenbender

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - A former Kentucky state lawmaker was convicted on Friday of bribing a former mining inspector not to cite his coal mining companies for violations.

A federal jury in Pikeville took 90 minutes to convict former state Representative W. Keith Hall, a Democrat, of paying $46,000 in bribes over a period of five years to Kelly Shortridge, who had pleaded guilty to bribery in March.

Prosecutors alleged that most of the funds were funneled from Hall's companies to a shell company the two created under the name of Shortridge's wife.

“The people of Kentucky will not tolerate crooked people who are serving in public office,” Harvey said.

Hall's attorney, Bryce Caldwell, said he and his client were "extremely disappointed" because they felt they had provided enough evidence to show that Hall had made the payments legally. Caldwell said they are not ruling out an appeal.

Hall, who testified on his own behalf, faces up to 10 years in prison when he is due to be sentenced on Sept. 17.

Hall, who was first elected in 2000, lost in a primary election last year and his term ended in December. His companies listed in the indictment include Beech Creek Coal Co, LLC & HEI Services LLC.

Shortridge testified at Hall's trial and is due to be sentenced on Aug. 6.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Mohammad Zargham)