Former lawyer sentenced in Ky. kickback scheme

July 13, 2011 - 5:59 PM

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky lawyer who admitted conspiring with a sheriff to extort money from people charged with drug crimes has been sentenced to more than two years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sentenced 54-year-old Ronnie Wayne Reynolds to 27 months for extortion under color of official right.

The U.S. attorney's office says Reynolds admitted making cash payments of more than $57,000 to then-Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge so Hodge would refer three individuals charged with crimes to Reynolds for representation.

Reynolds' plea agreement indicates he charged the three $257,000 altogether. Reynolds will have to forfeit $199,500.

Hodge pleaded guilty in May and agreed to a 15 ½-year sentence.

The charges stemmed from multiple investigations involving oxycodone in Whitley County, a rural area on the Kentucky-Tennessee line.