by James Bruggers, @jbruggers –
A former lawmaker from Pike County was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison after a bribery conviction involving a state inspector at his coal mines, according to news reports.
The Herald-Leader reports that U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell ordered Keith Hall, 56, to report to prison by May 18: “This is a serious offense, and serious punishment is warranted,” Caldwell told Hall, who served 14 years in the House as a Democrat. “It is necessary that lawmakers respect the law.”
WKYT reports that Hall was convicted of paying former mine reclamation officer Kelly Shortridge for favorable treatment.
Prosecutors said between 2006 and 2011, Shortridge inspected mines owned by Hall, and ignored violations in exchange for more than $46,000 in payments. Shortridge was sentenced to two years in prison in January, the television station reported.
Hall was also fined $25,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, according to the news reports.
During his trial last June, defense attorney Bryce Caldwell acknowledged that Hall sometimes paid money to Shortridge, but he said those payments were for legitimate business deals on which the men cooperated, the Associated Press reported.
“There is no disputing payments were made to Mr. Shortridge,” Caldwell said at the time. “But they were not for an unlawful purpose. He never asked Kelly Shortridge to not do his job. He never asked him to not enforce the reclamation and enforcement laws.”
Prosecutors said that Shortridge only wrote up Hall’s mines when he had no other choice, such as when rocks blasted from the site crashed into a nearby home, or when supervisors were following closely behind Shortridge to check his work.
Reach reporter James Bruggers at 502-582-4645 and firstname.lastname@example.org.