- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A former Kentucky lawmaker facing a bribery charge has asked that his trial be postponed following a guilty plea by a co-defendant.

Former state mine inspector Kelly Shortridge pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month to taking bribes from former lawmaker Keith Hall. The plea agreement said Shortridge, who worked for the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, took about $46,000 in bribes over two years from Hall, a coal mine owner who was also a state representative from Phelps.

The Appalachian News Express (https://bit.ly/1DkEj4c) reports Hall’s attorney, Brent Caldwell, filed a motion last week asking to reschedule the April 20 trial to a later date. Prosecutors have opposed the request.

Caldwell says he needs extra time to prepare after learning that prosecutors intend to call Shortridge to testify.

“This fact alone causes the defense to reassess its trial strategy in the case to counter any testimony … Shortridge might give against defendant Hall and the defense needs additional time to prepare for trial given this very recent development,” Caldwell wrote.

However, assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor argued that the trial should go on as scheduled.

“By the time of the trial on April 20, the defendant will have been indicted for six months and he will have had possession of the vast majority of the discovery materials for over five months,” Taylor wrote. He said the “apparent cooperation” of Shortridge with the government is not an “unusual development.”

“In the majority of multi-defendant cases in federal court, co-defendants plead and seek leniency, sometimes on the eve of trial,” he wrote. “Rarely is this development considered grounds for a continuance so that the defense can alter its strategy.”

A ruling hasn’t yet been issued.


Information from: Appalachian News-Express, https://www.news-expressky.com

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