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Disputed tape put under seal in bid-rigging case

FRANKFORT — A judge has ruled that a disputed recording of a "strategy session" between a prosecutor and a witness in a federal bid-rigging case can be filed under seal.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Todd filed the ruling Tuesday afternoon in a case involving construction contractor Leonard Lawson, former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert and Lawson aide Brian Russell Billings. They were indicted Sept. 3 on charges of conspiracy, misapplication of property and obstruction of justice.

All three have entered not-guilty pleas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor unintentionally gave the recording to defense attorneys along with other material gathered in a yearlong investigation. Taylor later asked for the tape's return. Defense attorneys argue that the recording is important evidence that they want to use at trial. The judge hasn't yet decided whether defense attorneys may keep the tape.

Todd also ordered that the recording be kept under seal until further notice.

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