Couple plan to plead guilty in corruption case involving Morgan County judge-executive

bestep@herald-leader.comJuly 9, 2014 

The two people charged with Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley in a federal corruption case plan to plead guilty.

Attorneys for Kenneth Lee Gambill and his wife, Ruth L. Gambill, filed motions Wednesday saying the two have reached a deal with prosecutors to admit they conspired with Conley in committing fraud, mail fraud and bribery.

Such agreements typically include a provision for those pleading guilty to help in the prosecution of remaining defendants.

Lexington attorney Mark Wohlander, who represents Kenneth Gambill, said Gambill will be a witness in the prosecution of Conley if called on.

"We fully intend to cooperate fully with the government," Wohlander said.

One of Conley's attorneys, Robert Michael Murphy of Lexington, declined comment on the pending guilty pleas.

Kenneth and Ruth Gambill operated a Salyersville company, PBTHNOJJ Construction, that received contracts in Morgan County to build bridges and install culverts and to clean up debris after a March 2, 2012 tornado devastated West Liberty, according to the federal indictment.

The indictment charged that Conley rigged bids to steer contracts to the company. In some cases, Conley opened documents in private and lowered bids from PBTHNOJJ Construction to make sure it had the low bid, according to the indictment.

Conley also made sure the company got more pay for tornado cleanup than justified, the indictment said.

The company got $1.1 million in proceeds during the conspiracy, which allegedly lasted from 2009 to August 2013.

Kenneth Gambill paid kickbacks to Conley in return, the grand jury charged.

Conley has pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove scheduled a change-of-plea hearing for Kenneth and Ruth Gambill for July 22.

The conspiracy charge in the case carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. The government also seeks a $1 million judgment from the three people charged.

Conley is scheduled for trial Aug. 25.

Conley was unopposed in the Republican primary this year in his bid for a fourth term, but he has opposition in the November general election.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1.

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