Politics & Government

Grand jury extended 90 days in hiring inquiry

FRANKFORT - No end is in sight for the special Franklin County grand jury that has indicted 15 people, including Gov. Ernie Fletcher, in a state hiring scandal.

Franklin Circuit Judge Reed Rhorer yesterday granted a request by Assistant Attorney General Scott Crawford-Sutherland to extend the grand jury's work for another 90 days. Its term was to end Thursday.

Vicki Glass, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said the extension was needed because "the governor's lawyers have failed to turn over e-mails that the court ordered produced last December."

"This needless delay requires extension of the special grand jury term so that it can complete its work."

Sheryl Snyder, a Louisville attorney representing Fletcher, said the governor's office produced the e-mails "of the key players in the investigation months ago, and has produced hundreds of thousands of e-mails from peripheral players since then."

He said the last two e-mail folders were produced late yesterday.

Snyder also said the request by Stumbo's office to extend the grand jury is "obviously a pretextual excuse for continuing the political drama."

In his motion for an extension, Crawford-Sutherland said evidence not yet provided by the governor's office includes the e-mails for former Fletcher administration transition team member and official Mike Duncan.

"Duncan's name is prominently mentioned in e-mail communications discussions regarding political patronage," the prosecutor said.

Duncan is general counsel for the Republican National Committee. A call yesterday to his Washington office for comment was not returned. Snyder identified the e-mail folders produced yesterday as those of Duncan and Darren Boswell.

Also yesterday, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate held a pre-trial hearing for former state highway engineer Sam Beverage, who was indicted May 11 on one charge of first-degree perjury. He has pleaded not guilty.

The judge said he would hold a hearing Sept. 21 on whether witnesses in the case can refuse to testify by invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

A witness list from the attorney general's office contained the names of former Chief of Staff Daniel Groves, former deputy transportation secretary Richard "Dick" Murgatroyd, former Transportation official Dan Druen, former personnel official Vincent Fields, former state Republican Party Chairman John McCarthy, Personnel Secretary Brian Crall and deputy justice secretary Teresa Barton.