Morgan County leader pleads guilty to kickbacks

LEXINGTON, KY (AP) - The top elected official in an Appalachian county devastated by a 2012 tornado has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge stemming from a scheme to steer work to a construction contractor in exchange for hefty kickbacks.

Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of mail fraud. He broke down with emotion in court as he recalled the tornado and told the judge he takes full responsibility for his actions.
The charge stems from allegations that Conley raked in kickbacks of more than $100,000 on bridge building contracts.
Prosecutors said the scheme began about three years before Morgan County was ravaged by the tornado on March 2, 2012, but Conley continued cashing in while the area struggled to recover from the storm that leveled much of West Liberty's downtown.

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