By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - Gov. Paul Patton's former mistress, Tina Conner, tearfully pleaded innocent to mail fraud Wednesday and said the consequences of their relationship had been "tremendously devastating."
U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood scheduled Conner's trial for Oct. 6 and released her on her own recognizance.
Conner said nothing on her way into the building, and she sobbed throughout the arraignment. Afterward, she spoke bitterly of her plight to reporters outside the courthouse.
"I've lost my business and it's been tremendously devastating on my children and my family," Conner said. "And I don't think words can describe what it feels like when your freedom is threatened."
Conner, who still lives in Kentucky, said she is not working. "I'm not employable," she said.
The mail-fraud charge arises from Conner's own statements about how she obtained certification as a "disadvantaged-business enterprise" for a construction company she owned with her former husband, Seth Conner.
The disadvantaged-business program was created to steer federally funded contracts to companies headed by women and minorities. ST Construction was primarily operated by Seth Conner, not his wife, according to the indictment.
Conner was involved in a two-year sexual relationship with Patton, who has admitted to the affair. It has since been disclosed that Patton personally asked officials at the Transportation Cabinet to review ST Construction's application.
Patton insists he never ordered anyone to approve the application and denies he misused his office to help or hurt Conner. Transportation Secretary James Codell has also denied any wrongdoing. Neither has been charged.
Patton spokesman Rusty Cheuvront said the governor was out of town Wednesday and would not have any comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor said Conner's possible sentence, if she is convicted, depends on federal sentencing guidelines.
When asked if she thought she was being unfairly prosecuted, Conner said she had no comment. James Green, one of Conner's attorneys, said he did not think her indictment was politically motivated.
"We don't see any politics involved in this situation," Green said. "We thought there might be questions about the lawyer in Louisville who was recently indicted, but he's being prosecuted by an entirely different agency and we don't see any politics."
Conner's former attorney, Fred Radolovich, was indicted on a state perjury charge in an unrelated case last week. The charge arose from his representation of a death-row inmate, James Slaughter, in 1994.
New name meant to woo new shoppers
Lazarus change ends an era
Parties spar over judicial choice
Alarm fees hit, citizens fuming
'Back' to school: yes, already, still
IN THE TRISTATE
$436.4 million budget proposed for city schools
Sewer district to buy 8 homes
River may get its own classroom
Environmentalist offers support for energy amendment
Accidents at Fernald result in deferral of $100,000 in bonus
Liability insurance rates drop for city's stadiums
Tristate A.M. Report
101 homes planned for Westwood subdivision
Smith Amos: When you need a helping hand, Cincinnati Works
Howard: Ex-banker honored for helping kids
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Dancer's charges upheld
Butler Co. tries new tack in prosecuting drug cases
Warren Co. commissioners revved up over snub by BMV
Blues a backup at city festival
Balloonists target Middletown
Landlord found in yard was electrocuted, investigators say
Theodore Wilburn Jr., 76, was police chief, musician
Mental health, inmate DNA bills inked
Putting another face on homeless
Predator law being toughened
Health of Ohio beach-goers to be studied
More trucks wanted on turnpike
Citizen tackles suspect police chased
Fletcher will debate with a sub
Financial camp gives teens an interest in power of savings
Detective says diary raised hint of foul play
Player meets his young self
Tina Connor pleads innocent to mail fraud
Three schools have no dropouts
Fans have speedier way to speedway
Patton blames agency for PC breach