Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Mayor's porn source sentenced to halfway house



By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

ASHLAND, Ky. - A businessman was sentenced Tuesday to five months in a halfway house for providing sexually explicit videotapes of children to a former mayor here.

John B. Riggs apologized to his friends and family for his involvement in the child porn case that ended the political career of Paul R. Reeves, who had served in elected offices in the northeastern Kentucky town for more than 10 years.

Reeves retired just as abruptly from his job as a purchasing agent for A.K. Steel, which had contracts with Riggs' company.

"I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't let Paul Reeves ruin my life," Riggs told U.S. District Judge Henry Wilhoit. "He made me do things I wouldn't normally do."

Under federal guidelines, Riggs could have been sentenced to 16 months in prison. However, Wilhoit opted for the lesser penalty to which he added five months of home confinement and a $3,000 fine.

Riggs had originally been charged with possession of child pornography. But through an agreement, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of knowledge of a felony.

Reeves also was scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, but his attorney, Larry Roberts of Lexington, was ill and could not attend the hearing. Wilhoit said he would reschedule the hearing later.

Under a plea agreement, Reeves could get 27 to 33 months in prison and a fine of $6,000 to $60,000. He will remain free on bond until his sentencing.

Reeves pleaded guilty to possessing two videotapes that showed children engaged in sexually explicit behavior. However, he said Riggs had ordered the tapes and that he had simply signed for them.

Defense attorney Michael Curtis told Wilhoit that Riggs felt he had to supply pornographic material to keep a contract his machine shop had with AK Steel, a large steel mill in Ashland.

Curtis said Riggs also provided Reeves with envelopes stuffed with money.

"There's never been anything whatsoever to suggest that my client ever looked at this kind of filth," Curtis said.

Curtis said Riggs Machine and Fabricating lost its contracts with AK Steel after the investigation became public. He said losing that contract cost the company as much as $180,000 a month, and forced the layoff of half its work force.

Curtis said the charges also have damaged Riggs' standing in the community as a respected businessman.

"He has paid the price. He has paid it 100 times over," Curtis said.

Wilhoit said several factors played in Riggs favor in sentencing, including the lack of a criminal history, a strong family life, and his marriage to the same woman for 30 years.




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