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Judge Orders Beverage Tape To Stay Sealed

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Videotaped testimony from a former high-ranking transportation official involved in the state hiring scandal will remain sealed from the public, a Franklin County judge ruled Thursday.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that releasing Sam Beverage's videotaped interview with prosecutors could cause more damage than maintaining its confidentiality. Beverage gave the interview as part a plea agreement.

The court has previously released written testimony Beverage offered to avoid a possible prison sentence on a felony perjury charge related to a state hiring investigation.

Beverage told state prosecutors in a statement dated Nov. 11, 2006, that Gov. Ernie Fletcher hand-picked certain road projects that should receive funding. Beverage also claimed the state transportation secretary wielded a $42 million discretionary fund as a "large campaign chest" used to hand out favors to supporters and lawmakers who voted in line with the administration.

Beverage was charged with felony perjury for allegedly lying to a special grand jury investigating charges that the Fletcher administration illegally rewarded political supporters with protected state jobs.

Fletcher, a Republican seeking re-election this fall, was indicted on misdemeanor charges stemming from the probe, but they were eventually dropped in a deal with prosecutors.

Earlier this month, Wingate sentenced Beverage to serve two years' probation and ordered him to pay a $500 fine and write an apology letter.

WHAS-TV in Louisville argued the interview should be released because the public had a right to know what information the state received in exchange for the deal.

Wingate originally authorized the release of the tape, but changed his mind when Attorney General Greg Stumbo objected.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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