4th judge assigned to bid-rigging case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A fourth federal judge has been assigned the case involving bribery and conspiracy charges against road contractor Leonard Lawson and former Kentucky Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert.

The first three judges disqualified themselves last week, citing potential conflicts of interest. On Monday, the case was assigned to Judge Karl Forester, who is on senior status, or semi-retirement.

Nighbert is accused of leaking confidential bid information to Lawson in 2006 and 2007, while Lawson allegedly used the information to increase his bids for state contracts. Lawson is accused of later paying Nighbert more than $67,000.

Nighbert, Lawson and Lawson employee Brian Billings are also charged with obstructing justice. All three have pleaded not guilty.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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