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Bid-rigging trial to remain in Lexington

A federal judge ruled Monday that a bid-tampering trial scheduled to begin in January will remain in Lexington.

Defense lawyers for Leonard Lawson, a prominent road contractor; former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert; and Brian Billings, a Lawson employee, had argued that there was too much pre-trial publicity in Lexington and that a possible jury pool would be tainted by the substantial media coverage. The attorneys had argued that the case should be transferred to Covington, where there has been less media coverage about the case.

But in his Monday order, U.S. District Judge Karl Forester said defense lawyers and prosecutors could weed out potential jurors who had read or heard about the case. "Defendants are not going to be able to avoid media publicity of this case by transferring venue," Forester said.

Lawson, Nighbert and Billings have been charged in an alleged conspiracy to bribe state employees for internal Transportation Cabinet estimates of road contracts that Lawson's companies were set to bid on. The alleged conspiracy took place during former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration.

All three men have pleaded not guilty. The trial is set to begin Jan. 11.

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