Federal prosecutors want former state Rep. W. Keith Hall to serve eight years and one month in prison for bribing a state inspector assigned to his coal mines.
Hall, 56, is a Democrat who represented Pike County in the Kentucky House for 14 years, until his defeat in 2014. He is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell in Lexington.
In a motion filed Tuesday, prosecutors said Hall deserves the toughest possible sentence allowed under federal sentencing guidelines, based on the seriousness of his crimes, the fact that he repeatedly lied to conceal them, and his history of ethics violations in the General Assembly.
Hall paid or otherwise arranged for about $46,000 to go to Kelly Shortridge in 2009 and 2010 after the Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement assigned Shortridge to inspect Hall’s mines. In exchange, Shortridge ignored or delayed citing violations at Hall’s mines and allowed the lawmaker to auger-mine coal outside the permitted area.
A jury in Pikeville convicted Hall last June after a five-day trial. Shortridge pleaded guilty in February 2015 to soliciting bribes.
“Hall’s payments to Shortridge to overlook reclamation and environmental violations left the public vulnerable to the negative effects of mining that the laws were enacted to prevent,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Roth wrote in the motion. “Hall, as an advocate for the citizens of Pike County, was tasked with, among other things, protecting his constituents from the deleterious effects of improper mine-reclamation procedures.
“This is not the first time Hall has been caught using his elected position to put his own economic interests before the interests of those he was elected to serve,” Roth said.
During Hall’s House tenure, he twice was fined by the Legislative Ethics Commission — once for taking no-bid contracts financed by money he approved in the state budget, and another time for failing to properly disclose his personal finances for six years.
Hall was forced to resign from the Pike County school board in 1999 during a state investigation into his alleged attempts to improperly influence the awarding of school district jobs. Pike County voters elected him to the legislature the next year.
Caldwell ordered Shortridge to report March 30 to the federal prison in Loretto, Pa., to serve a 24-month sentence. Shortridge’s lawyers asked for a delay in his report date because he allegedly suffers from kidney disease and a hand injury. But Caldwell said in her order that the prison has adequate medical facilities to care for the former mine inspector.