Pubdate: Sat, 06 Dec 2003
Source: Kentucky Post (KY)
Copyright: 2003 Kentucky Post
Author: Shelly Whitehead and Paul Long


The state Attorney General's office has named a special prosecutor to review
the state police investigation into the office of Kenton County prosecutor
Bill Crockett. George Moore, the commonwealth attorney for four Eastern
Kentucky counties, has been appointed to review the matter, said Brian
Wright, spokesman for the Kentucky Attorney General's office. "He is looking
into -- all aspects of the case to determine how to proceed," Wright said.

"We do not want to make any comments that in any way would limit the scope
of the review. -- We don't know what we're going to find when we get there
or what it would be limited to."

The investigation, which state police began in September, stems from
allegations made in open court that Ludlow police improperly sought cash
payments as part of plea agreements with people arrested on drug charges.
Ludlow Detective Bill Schilling had been giving people "proffer agreements"
in which they would forfeit money in exchange for reduced charges and jail
time. State investigators are looking into the role of the commonwealth
attorney's office, because police are not authorized to make such plea

Crockett has said Schilling was acting on his own and pledged to cooperate
with the investigation. He said Schilling continued to offer the deals to
people arrested on drug charges even after prosecutors told him not to.

Moore serves in the 21st Judicial Circuit, which includes Montgomery, Bath,
Rowan and Menifee counties. He declined to comment on the case Friday

Moore's tough stance on crime was in the news in 2001 when a Kentucky State
Police investigation uncovered a plot to kill a judge, Moore, and Moore's
wife and daughter. Amos A. Stiltner, 50, was found guilty in 2001 of four
counts of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of being a persistent
felony offender.

Moore had opposed Stiltner's requests for early release from jail time on a
theft charge in Montgomery County.

Hard-line Fayette County prosecutor Ray Larson had been asked to consider
taking the case, but Larson said Friday he already had accepted another case
on the appellate level which made it impossible for him to do both.

Though Crockett has said he was not involved in the alleged deal on the
Ludlow charges, it's likely the state's investigation will include a probe
of his office.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office refused to disclose details of
the investigation but said it is not limited to the originating complaint
about the Ludlow drug charges.

The four circuit court judges in Kenton County have criticized Crockett's
office from the bench, mostly addressing three specific issues:

.  That it rushes to indict people but finds that the evidence doesn't hold
up, then asks judges to dismiss or significantly reduce the charges.

.  The office indicts minor crimes as felonies.

.  Cases are needlessly delayed because evidence is misplaced or attorneys
in the office are not prepared for trial.

Kenneth Easterling -- an assistant county attorney whose office handles
misdemeanors in the district court, a separate entity from the circuit court
where Crockett's office handles felony charges -- offered his opinion,
speaking only for himself and not the office: "It's clearly appropriate that
an outside agency come into run that investigation."

He said that, because the prosecutor was named while the Kentucky State
Police investigation is in progress, he will have some authority over its

"The special prosecutor will work very closely with the investigating
agency. It's going to be his call as to what to change and who to charge."
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