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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jury still out in Hively corruption, fraud case

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Staff Writer

Former 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney T.J. Hively's racketeering and corruption trial entered its sixth week March 8. Hively, the prosecuting attorney for the 16th Judicial District from 1993 to 1998, is accused of using his elected office as a criminal enterprise. This is the second trial in which Hively has faced similar charges.

In his original trial in 2001, Hively was indicted on 64 counts of racketeering and fraud. He was acquitted on 48 of those charges in March 2002. His current trial covers the remaining 16 charges. The charges include one count of racketeering, two counts of extortion and 13 counts of mail fraud.

Throughout these trials Hively has maintained his innocence.

According to an affidavit released by the United States District Attorney's office, Hively and his co-defendants Wesley John "Butch" Ketz Jr. and Gary Edwards, are charged with using the prosecuting attorney's office as a criminal enterprise and committing mail fraud.

Prosecutors contend Hively and his co-defendants acquired money and property in exchange for lenience in criminal cases.

At the center of the racketeering charge is Kathy Sampson Clark. Clark testified she was a victim of the defendant's fraudulent schemes. In 1998 her husband, Willie Clark, was charged and convicted in the shooting death of her boyfriend, Roy Fulbright.

Clark said Edwards told her she might be charged in the shooting and she needed to deed her property over to her husband and his nephew, Fred Clark. She said when she went to sign the deed, Edwards covered the upper portion of contract, concealing the name of the benefactor. She found out later she had deeded her property over to Edwards.

Clark said Hively and Edwards told her in exchange for her property the prosecutors wouldn't charge her in connection with the Fulbright shooting. The property remained with Edwards, and Kathy Clark was never charged in Fulbright's death.

Edwards said Clark came to him with concerns over whether or not she would be charged. Edwards said he agreed to check into it for her, but he never used the threat of charges from Hively's office as a means to acquire her property.

Hively and Ketz are also accused of committing mail fraud. In an affidavit released by the United States District Attorney's office, Hively and Ketz stand accused of making fraudulent representations on work expenditure forms. According to the district attorney, they overcharged the government for work and services they didn't provide.

Hively, taking the stand in his own defense, denied the charges. When asked if he was guilty of the crimes he is being charged with, Hively calmly replied, "No sir, I'm not."

Hivelys said he made many deals as prosecuting attorney but they were not unusual. His defense attorney said Hively made plea agreements and financial agreements in a manner consistent with the law. Hively said some of the problems he is now facing stem from "clerical errors" made in his office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Newton closed the government's case March 3 by pointing out the volume of cases Hively and his associates are charged in connection with. "You want proof of misrepresentation?" he said. "Look at that stack (pointing to stack of criminal cases involving Hively) -- it's full of them."

The jury was handed the case March 4 and was still in deliberations at press time March 9.

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