A former state representative and Pikeville, Kentucky, coal operator, Wendell Keith Hall, has been convicted by a jury of bribing a federal mine official.
The jury deliberated for one hour and 30 minutes following five days of trial. According to evidence presented at trial, Hall, who represented House District 93 in the Kentucky General Assembly, paid mine reclamation officer Kelly Shortridge for favorable treatment in connection with his official duties.
Shortridge worked as an environmental inspector for the Office of Surface Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, where he was responsible for enforcing federal mine reclamation laws and regulations. From 2006 through 2011, Shortridge inspected mines owned by Hall. Shortridge ignored violations that occurred on Hall’s property in exchange for a series of payments totaling over $46,000.
The evidence also established that the two men disguised the payments as consulting fees. In 2010, they set up a shell company, DKJ Consulting, in the name of Shortridge’s wife and opened a bank account with her as the sole authorized signatory on the account. Hall then used a company he owned, S&K Properties, to funnel money to Shortridge through DKJ to make the payments appear as legitimate business expenses.
“Mr. Hall’s brazen scheme to corrupt an important governmental function for his personal benefit is made all the more egregious by his former status as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly,” said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “The United States will seek a sentence which properly reflects the serious nature of Mr. Hall’s criminal conduct.”
Shortridge pleaded guilty in February of this year. Shortridge is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 6, 2015. U.S. Attorney Harvey, Special Agent in Charge, Howard S. Marshall for the FBI and Scott Oliver of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Interior jointly made the announcement.
Hall faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. However, any sentence imposed will come after the court considers the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes governing the imposition of sentences.