Pubdate: Thu, 11 Dec 2003
Source: Kentucky Post (KY)
Copyright: 2003 Kentucky Post
Author: Shelly Whitehead


Proffers as such are not unusual

He proudly calls himself an unreconstructed Roosevelt Democrat. He appears 
fearless in the face of reporters' questions. But he won't answer a single 
inquiry he, and the American Bar Association, might deem inappropriate. 
Montgomery County Commonwealth Attorney George Moore -- the man the 
Kentucky Attorney General's office recently appointed to investigate 
alleged wrongdoing by a Ludlow police detective -- clearly feels confident 
to handle an investigation which may lead to a probe of the office of 
fellow county prosecutor, Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett.

In an interview with The Post, the 52-year-old Mt. Sterling attorney says 
he is just getting started on the case after the conclusion of nearly 
three-month-long Kentucky State Police investigation of the allegations in 
early November and describes the process of the investigation.

The Special Investigations East Division of the Kentucky State Police 
launched the probe last September after allegations made in open court that 
Ludlow police improperly sought cash payments as part of plea agreements 
with people arrested on drug charges.

Ludlow Police Detective Bill Schilling allegedly gave people "proffer 
agreements" in which they would forfeit money in exchange for reduced 
charges and jail time. Police are not authorized to make such deals without 
the involvement of a court officer, such as the commonwealth or county 
attorney for their jurisdiction.

Bill Crockett has said his office was not involved in the Ludlow proffer 

Moore said he is not aware of another investigation into proffer agreements 
in Kentucky, though he said the agreements are made every day across the 

Q: Since proffer agreements are at issue in this investigation, could you 
clarify exactly what they are?

A: In most cases in Kentucky, the Administrative Office of the Courts has a 
form that the commonwealth can offer on pleas of guilty, and that's kind of 
what would normally be thought of as a proffer.

It means making a written offer to a defendant saying "This is what you're 
charged with; this is what the facts are as we understand them. -- You're 
charged with this, and we recommend you plead and this is what the 
recommended sentence would be."

They are used throughout the state of Kentucky.

(Payment of) restitution can be part of a proffer. That's extremely common 
- -- restitution to victims. -- All of those are things you see in plea 
negotiations. They're not unusual.

Q: Who is authorized to extend proffer agreements?

A: I'm not familiar with a statute that regulates that. If you go looking 
for one, I don't think you'll find one.

Obviously, it's not unusual for police officers to be involved in the 
resolution of cases. I think most prosecutors consult with officers on a 
routine basis while they're in the process of working (a case) -- to have 
the officer to be involved in the negotiation of a plea. Routinely officers 
are involved in the negotiation of a plea.

Q: Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett has said he was not 
involved in the alleged proffer agreements some people have said they made 
with Ludlow Police Det. Bill Schilling. Is a police officer authorized to 
make such agreements alone?

A: No. -- Ultimately the court has to accept it, and when the court gets 
ready to accept it, there has to be a court officer involved in it -- -- 
defense attorneys, a prosecutor, a judge, to have a plea.

Q: So does that mean that all those players (defense attorneys, 
prosecutors, judges) are involved in the cases you are investigating, will 
also be part of this investigation?

A: I'm not going to answer your question. -- But, if, for example, we 
assume for the purposes of argument that something was improper, that 
doesn't mean everybody in the process was involved in the impropriety. 
Those two don't necessarily follow each other.

Q: Can you say which offices or individuals are subjects in your investigation?

A: I have been assigned to the situation involving the proffers at the 
Lud-low Police Department. But I just got started. (When) all the paper 
work got to me, -- I met with the Kentucky State Police. -- They have 
interviewed the people they identified as fact-specific individuals, and 
what they have done is prepared a standard case report.

My function would be to look at a total set of facts that surround these 
issues, so whereever that goes is where it goes. I mean, who knows? If you 
go to the discount store and pick up a ball of yarn and start pulling on 
the end, who knows? It goes where it goes.

Q: Do you think public officials, other than Det. Schilling, will receive 
attention during your investigation?

A: We're looking at the facts to see where those go. But it would be 
pre-mature and inappropriate for me to comment on that.

Q: You've said you're still trying to determine the length of time the 
investigation spans. Can you say how many cases are involved?

A: I'm not going to answer that.

Q: You said you were in Northern Kentucky this week to work on the 
investigation. What were you doing?

A: Just interviewing people -- and discovering they have an Atkins (diet) 
menu at TGIF's.

Q: Perhaps you could say how long you think this investigation will take to 
complete and what happens next?

A: My desire is to get done as soon as I can. -- What we normally do on a 
case is we (first) go back over the police investigation and then we do our 
own follow-up to the police investigation, so that you answer the questions 
you want answered as a prosecutor. I may refer work back to the 
investigative agency to do.

Then, I sit down with my staff and we do what we do on every case -- -- 
look at the facts, look at the law and determine if there was a violation 
of law. Then we determine how to move from that point: Do we make a grand 
jury submission? Do I just make a call on it by myself? Not every case goes 
to the grand jury.

Q: You've said you're not aware of any similar investigations involving 
allegations of illegal proffers in Kentucky, and that you have never 
handled a similar investigation. What kinds of cases have you had as a 
special prosecutor and why do you think the attorney general's office 
selected you for this job?

A: I think they assumed I could do it, but I think age (was the reason) 
more than anything else. I've done this for a long time -- and it doesn't 
take a rocket scientist to see that this has some publicity to it.

I have been involved in other matters that involve police agencies. --

A police officer assault case up in Ashland a year ago, I worked on. -- and 
I do other special prosecution for them (Kentucky Attorney General's office).

I handled a fetal homicide (case) in Pike County -- and I've got one going 
in Knott County right now.

Q: And you're also the commonwealth attorney for the four counties: Bath, 
Menifee, Montgomery and Rowan. Is this investigation going to tax the 
resources of your office? And whose budget covers a special prosecutor's costs?

A: I have four counties. -- But December, mercifully, is not a horrid 
month. -- Then if I need the resources (of the Attorney General's office), 
they're there to help in terms of the resources we need -- and I have the 
cooperation of state police. --

For travel (expenses incurred), the reality is that comes out of special 
prosecution's line.

But, my office, as far as time is concerned, my office absorbs that (cost).

Q: If your investigation ultimately leads to an extensive probe of fellow 
commonwealth attorney, Bill Crockett, is that going to be difficult in any 
way for you?

A: Sure. But, I live in a town of -- maybe 10,000 people in Mt. Sterling, 
and 20,000 people in Montgomery County. As a prosecutor in a small 
community, you become accustomed to prosecuting people you know.

It's part of your responsibility and if you can't do it, don't take the oath.

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About George W. Moore

Age: 52. Family: Married with two children.

Residence: Mt. Sterling.

Work: Commonwealth Attorney for the 21st Judicial Circuit -- Bath, Menifee, 
Montgomery and Rowan counties -- in Northeast Kentucky since 1992.

Education: Law degree from the University of Kentucky, 1977.

Honors and professional activities: Kentucky Outstanding Commonwealth's 
Attorney, 2001; president of Commonwealth's Attorneys Association, 2001; 
member of Prosecutors Advisory Council, 2000-present.
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