News Around the State

Published 12:09 pm Friday, June 1, 2018

Bevin lawyer asks judge in pension case to step aside

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An attorney for Gov. Matt Bevin has asked a judge to consider disqualifying himself from hearing a lawsuit over Kentucky’s new public pension law.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Bevin attorney Steve Pitt wrote to Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd that the outcome of the case may affect the judge’s financial interest because of his membership in the state judicial retirement plan.

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But the Courier Journal said Shepherd issued an order late Thursday saying there are no judicial pensions at issue in the case and denying the request.

Pitt argued that unlike Shepherd, judges who took office after Jan. 1, 2014, don’t have the same pension and aren’t affected by the lawsuit’s outcome.

Bevin recently called Shepherd “an incompetent hack” after Shepherd denied Bevin’s request to take depositions of representatives of the plaintiffs.

Ky. creates website to help answer tax law questions

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Revenue is launching a website to help state residents understand tax law changes.

The changes were made during the recent session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

The department says beginning July 1, some services will be subject to sales tax, and other taxes are impacted by the new law. Some services providers will be responsible for collecting sales and use tax.

The revenue department has launched a website,, to shed light on the new laws. The site features information, answers to frequently asked questions and links to technical guidance.

Revenue Commissioner Daniel Bork says the tax changes will impact many Kentuckians.

Ky. lobbyist spending set record in 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s 2018 legislative session set a record with $10.67 million spent on lobbying.

The Legislative Ethics Commission says the spending puts Kentucky on track for a record-breaking year with more than $22 million spent on influencing lawmakers.

This year’s spending is 11 percent higher than 2016 and 19 percent higher than 2017. Altria was first with more than $379,000 in spending. Altria is the parent company of Phillip Morris and opposed an increase in the cigarette tax. The legislature approved a 50-cent per pack increase.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was second, with more than $187,000. Utility company LG&E & KU Power was third with more than $126,000. The Kentucky Hospital Association was fourth with more than $111,000. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky was fifth at more than $110,000.

Man convicted of ordering hit on 4 people sentenced

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man convicted of trying to hire someone to kill two prosecutors and two ex-girlfriends has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

News outlets report 55-year-old William Timothy Sutton was sentenced Wednesday after being convicted of possession of firearms by a convicted felon and four counts of interstate murder-for-hire.

In 2017, Sutton was incarcerated at the Whitley County Detention Center when he offered another inmate $40,000 to kill the victims. Evidence showed Sutton mailed a letter to a relative, asking the person to provide the would-be hit man with one of his firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Samuel Dotson says Sutton had a history of violence toward his ex-girlfriends and had tried earlier to have them killed.

Sutton must serve most of his sentence before being eligible for release.

Propane torch likely set off blast at UPS facility

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say a propane torch set off the blast that damaged a UPS freight hub in Kentucky’s second-largest city and sent multiple people to the hospital.

Lexington fire investigator Maj. Robert King tells news outlets that the torch likely ignited leaking gas, leading to Wednesday’s explosion.

Fire department spokeswoman Lt. Jessica Bowman says none of the 45 tanks of acetylene gas inside the UPS box truck at the facility actually exploded, despite initial reports. King says crews are checking the tanks to see which, if any, had leaks.

Eight people were hospitalized following the explosion. Bowman didn’t have an update on victims’ conditions Thursday, but all were considered in fair condition later Wednesday. King says both the propane torch operator and truck driver were among the injured.

Bourbon theft ringleader sentenced to 15 years in prison

(AP) — The mastermind of a whiskey theft ring in Kentucky has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the scheme that siphoned tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of bourbon from two distilleries.

Former distillery worker Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger pleaded guilty last year to charges that included theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.

Curtsinger was sentenced Friday in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the case known as “Pappygate.”

The thefts included hard-to-get and pricey brands such as Pappy Van Winkle bourbon taken from the Buffalo Trace distillery. The thefts also targeted the Wild Turkey distillery.

Authorities estimated the recovered whiskey was worth at least $100,000.

Authorities say Curtsinger loaded whiskey barrels into a pickup truck, covered them with a tarp and hauled them to potential buyers. He was indicted in 2015.