According to a federal grand jury in London, which issued the indictment late last week, Shortridge – who worked for the Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement and was responsible for enforcing federal mine reclamation laws and regulations from 2006 through 2011 – inspected Hall’s mines (under the names on record of Beech Creek Coal and HEI Services) and allegedly ignored violations in exchange for payments totaling more than $46,000.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that the two men disguised the payments as consulting fees. Additionally, the scheme was not a recent one; in 2010, they allegedly set up a shell company, DKJ Consulting, in the name of Shortridge’s wife and opened a bank account with her as the sole authorized signatory on the account. Hall then used a company he owned, S&K Properties, to funnel money to Shortridge through DKJ.
Shortridge has been additionally charged with lying to the FBI during a July interview for telling agents he was not associated with DKJ and did not know who was associated to it. Additionally, he claimed never to have received money from Hall or S&K Properties. Lastly, he has been charged with attempting to extort money from Hall; in 2011, he sent Hall a message indicating he would induce another inspector to cite him for serious violations if he did not pay the money owed.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is an unacceptable breach of the public trust,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Kerry Harvey said. “Such conduct undermines the public’s faith in our institutions of government and makes the job harder for the vast majority of public officials who honorably discharge their duties on behalf of the public they serve.”
If convicted, the bribery charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years; the extortion charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison; and lying to a federal agent carries a maximum of 5 years in prison.
An arraignment date for both Hall and Shortridge has been set for November 5 in Pikeville.