Former Kentucky state lawmaker sentenced to seven years for bribery

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - A former Kentucky lawmaker received a seven-year prison sentence on Thursday for bribing an inspector to overlook violations at his coal mining companies, his attorney said.

Former state Representative W. Keith Hall, 56, who was convicted in federal court in June 2015 of paying $46,000 over a five-year period to former mining inspector Kelly Shortridge, was also fined $25,000, said his attorney, Brent Caldwell.

Prosecutors said at Hall’s trial in Lexington that most of the funds were funneled from Hall’s companies to a shell company the two men created in the name of Shortridge’s wife.

Shortridge reached a plea agreement and testified against Hall. He is slated to start his 24-month sentence next week.

According to court documents, sentencing guidelines for Hall called for more than eight years in prison.

His attorneys argued a sentence closer to the minimum 6-1/2 years was more appropriate. Caldwell said on Thursday an appeal was still possible, adding his client disagreed with the verdict.

Hall, a Democrat, served 14 years in the Kentucky General Assembly before losing a primary election in May 2014. His indictment came five months later. His companies listed in the indictment included Beech Creek Coal Co, LLC & HEI Services LLC.

Reporting by Steve Bittenbender, Editing by Ben Klayman and Peter Cooney