Former Fletcher Official To Plead Guilty To Misdemeanor

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former aide in Gov. Ernie Fletcher's
administration is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor
stemming from his involvement in the state hiring scandal, his
attorney said Friday.
Former state highway engineer Sam Beverage is expected to plead
guilty to a misdemeanor official misconduct charge on Monday, said
Burl McCoy, his Lexington-based attorney. Beverage, who was charged
with perjury, could get a $500 fine and up to 12 months in jail
under the deal with prosecutors, McCoy said.
"It's a good deal," McCoy said.
Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland said the
parties would take the agreement before Franklin County Circuit
Court Judge Thomas D. Wingate on Monday. He said the agreement was
the "sensible thing" for him to do.
Beverage was the lone current or former Fletcher administration
official still facing criminal charges stemming from the state
hiring scandal that erupted in May 2005. He was charged with
perjury - a felony - for something he allegedly told the Franklin
County special grand jury that investigating the case. He was
facing a maximum of five years in prison under the perjury charge.
For more than a year, the special grand jury investigated
allegations that Fletcher administration officials were handing out
protected state jobs to the governor's political supporters.
Fletcher issued a blanket pardon for everyone in his administration
before anyone was convicted of a crime. The governor was also
indicted on misdemeanor charges stemming from the probe, but they
were dropped in a negotiated deal with prosecutors.
A later grand jury report found that Fletcher had overseen a
"widespread and coordinated plan" to avoid state hiring laws.
Beverage, after the pardons, allegedly made false statements to
the grand jury about the merit-position appointments of two
employees.
McCoy said Beverage was not available for comment.
By accepting the plea deal, Beverage avoided the expense of a
trial and the danger of possibly being convicted of a felony, McCoy
said.
"We believe we had a good chance of prevailing, but so did the
commonwealth," McCoy said.
Cleveland said he reviewed the lengthy case file about six times
and ultimately thought it would have been "very difficult" to
prove the perjury charge.
Cleveland said he would not have called Fletcher as a witness,
but would have called others who had been indicted and pardoned -
something that didn't make sense to him.
"When you read it you're all charged up and outraged at what
you're reading," Cleveland said. "It came to me over Memorial Day
weekend, what I was charged up about wasn't what I was
prosecuting."

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

AP-NY-06-08-07 1739EDT


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