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Feds Want Defense Subpoena Stopped In Road Bid Rig Probe

FRANKFORT, KY -- Federal prosecutors want a judge to quash a subpoena issued by defense attorneys to a key witness in the investigation of alleged bid tampering in the Transportation Cabinet during former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor filed a motion in federal court Friday asking a federal judge to quash a subpoena that asks for detailed information about James Rummage's finances.

Rummage, a former transportation employee, told federal investigators that he received $20,000 in cash from highway contractor Leonard Lawson for internal cost estimates for road projects in 2006 and 2007. Rummage has said that he provided the estimates to Lawson at the direction of former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, reports the Herald-Leader.

Lawson and Nighbert were indicted earlier this month on a series of charges related to alleged bid tampering. A Lawson employee, Brian Billings, was also charged. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for Lawson issued a subpoena for Rummage on Sept. 17 asking for a host of financial information, including bank statements, tax forms, charitable donations and pension records. The subpoena also asked for any communications between Rummage and the FBI and several transportation employees as well as any video or audio recordings created by Rummage, the Herald-Leader reports.

In documents filed Friday, Taylor said the subpoena was "abusive, oppressive and unwarranted." Taylor goes on to say that the subpoena was a way to make Rummage's testimony "as unpleasant and invasive and as difficult as possible."

Rummage has not been charged in the case nor does he have a plea deal with prosecutors.

Larry Mackey, a lawyer for Lawson, said Friday that he plans to file a response to Taylor's motion soon. "We believe we are fully entitled to those materials in order to defend Mr. Lawson," Mackey said.

Defense attorneys have filed motions asking that the Nov. 12 trial date be delayed, in part because they plan to ask that the case against their clients be dismissed. U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Todd has set an Oct. 7 hearing on the matter, reports the Lexington Herald Leader.

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