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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of Kentucky

For Immediate Release

July 13, 2011

Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney

Contact: Kyle Edelen, Public Information Officer
(859) 685-4811

Former Williamsburg Attorney Sentenced 27 Months for Extortion Conspiracy with Former Whitley County Sheriff

LONDON — A former criminal defense attorney in Williamsburg, Ky. was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for conspiring to extort money from his clients. U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sentenced 54–year–old Ronnie Wayne Reynolds for extortion under color of official right.

Reynolds acknowledged that between 2004 and 2007, he and then Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge conspired to extort money from three individuals charged with felony drug offenses in state court.

Reynolds admitted to making cash payments to Hodge in excess of $57,000 so that the sheriff would refer individuals charged with crimes to Reynolds for representation. Reynolds charged these three individuals a combined $257,000 according to his plea agreement.

In addition, Reynolds, acting on behalf of Hodge, also encouraged these same clients to make forfeiture payments and/or cash donations to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office received over $55,000 from this scheme. Reynolds will have to forfeit $199,500 representing the profit from the conspiracy.

In May Hodge pleaded guilty to his role in the extortion conspiracy and to a drug and money laundering conspiracy.

Reynolds will have to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence. Kerry B.Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Paul J. Vido, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Christopher R. Pikelis, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service jointly made the announcement today.

The investigation was conducted by ATF and IRS. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented by W. Samuel Dotson.