A Louisville political consultant pleaded guilty Wednesday in an ongoing investigation of corruption in state government that has many in the capitol wondering when the next shoe will fall.
Larry J. O’Bryan, 57, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of taking part in a kickback scheme with his friend Tim Longmeyer of Louisville, a longtime Democratic Party insider who headed the Personnel Cabinet under former Gov. Steve Beshear.
O’Bryan pleaded guilty in federal court in Lexington, admitting he acted as a conduit between Longmeyer and a consultant who bribed Longmeyer in order to get state business.
O’Bryan’s plea identified the company involved in the scheme as MC Squared, a Lexington company co-founded by Sam C. McIntosh, a Perry County native long active in state Democratic Party politics.
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The document did not name McIntosh, but listed a person by the initials S.M. as being involved in the kickbacks.
McIntosh has not been indicted and has not commented on the case.
Federal prosecutors charged O’Bryan through a document called an information, rather than going through a grand jury to seek an indictment.
The use of an information — and the fact O’Bryan pleaded guilty at the same day it was filed — likely indicates he has agreed to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.
O’Bryan’s attorney, Scott C. Cox of Louisville, declined comment and said O’Bryan would have no comment.
U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell did not require O’Bryan to post a financial bond and released him pending sentencing.
Documents in O’Bryan’s case say Longmeyer contacted O’Bryan in 2009 and they “formulated a kickback scheme” involving the state-employee insurance plan operated by Humana. Under the deal, Longmeyer used his position to get Humana to give MC Squared contracts for work such as conducting focus groups to gauge employee satisfaction with the insurance plan.
MC Squared then gave about half the money from Humana to O’Bryan or his company, Pro-Active Media, O’Bryan acknowledged.
O’Bryan took out what he believed would be due in taxes on the amount he received, then gave half of what was left to Longmeyer as his payoff, according to the court document.
The document listed 14 payments totaling $1,292,826 from Humana to MC Squared between October 2011 and March 2014, with MC Squared passing on $642,201.50 to O’Bryan.
Longmeyer made sure the state reimbursed Humana for its payments to MC Squared, according to O’Bryan’s plea.
Longmeyer pleaded guilty in April to receiving $197,500 in cash and $6,000 in illegal campaign contributions from MC Squared in 2014 and 2015 while he headed the Personnel Cabinet.
Longmeyer also worked briefly as a top aide to Attorney General Andy Beshear, the former governor’s son, before resigning abruptly in March after learning of the looming federal charges against him.
Court records list $3,000 in illegal donations that Longmeyer arranged to Beshear’s campaign, but Beshear has said he had no knowledge of Longmeyer’s illegal activities.
The FBI agent leading the investigation, James R. Huggins, said in an affidavit that he has no reason to believe Beshear or former Attorney General Jack Conway knew of Longmeyer’s scheme to direct illegal contributions to their campaigns.
Longmeyer, 48, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but his sentence will likely be less.
Dates cited in court documents indicate O’Bryan left the scheme in early 2014 while Longmeyer continued pursuing it for more money.
The three charges against O’Bryan were that he and S.M. aided each other in bribing Longmeyer.
Each charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but O’Bryan’s sentence will likely be considerably less.
The calculation in his plea outlined a sentence of seven years and three months on the low end and nine years on the top end. Those are preliminary, however, and judges are not bound by the advisory sentencing guidelines.
O’Bryan also agreed to pay restitution of $642,201.50 to the state of Kentucky on or before his sentencing date in January.
O’Bryan served on state boards under Gov. Steve Beshear, including the state lottery board, and in addition to his political consulting owns a company that makes labels.
The website of Pro-Active Media said O’Bryan graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1981 with a double major in government and journalism.
O’Bryan worked in the state legislature for a time and then for the state Democratic Party in 1982, and was a Young Democrats national committeeman and chairman of the Jefferson County Young Democrats in the early 1980s, according to his biography.
O’Bryan worked in international sales for a time and was a part-owner of five Papa John’s Pizza restaurants.
He founded Pro-Active Media in 1995 and has been involved in numerous campaigns.
“Larry has the ability and experience to develop media strategy for local campaign budgets as low as $100,000 or strategy for multi-million dollar statewide television and radio advertising,” his website said.