Monday, October 6, 2003

Conner expanding suit against Patton

The Associated Press

PADUCAH, Ky. - Tina Conner told a newspaper that she continues to work on her civil lawsuit against Gov. Paul Patton, whom she maintains was not thoroughly investigated after she claimed he used his position to punish her for ending their affair.

In claims made during at least three meetings with state and federal investigators last year, Conner said Patton ordered inspectors to crack down on her nursing home in Clinton. As a result, she claims, she was forced into bankruptcy after losing her state operating certification.

"They haven't talked to the key manager who was the administrator during the time the allegations were made," Conner said in an interview with The Paducah Sun published in Sunday's edition. "If they were truly investigating this, he would have been one of the first they talked to because he had knowledge of what went on."

Dan Dabney, the administrator, confirmed he has not been interviewed by investigators.

Conner pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of mail fraud, a federal charge brought against her after the two-year affair was made public. The charge was that she falsified an application to create a minority-owned business that would be eligible for special consideration in receiving government contracts.

Prosecutors have recommended probation for Conner, who will be sentenced Jan. 8.

Conner also told the newspaper that she has new evidence from "credible witnesses" who have knowledge about the governor's alleged orders to crack down on the nursing home. With the new evidence, her civil suit against Patton will be expanded, she said.

Conner sued Patton last year in Franklin County Circuit Court on sexual harassment and other charges. A judge dismissed all the allegations but one - that Patton engaged in outrageous conduct - and the claim is pending.

"Now that this administration is winding down, people are coming forward and providing us with the evidence we need for the lawsuit," Conner said.

She did not identify anyone, saying they don't want to go public until Patton's term as governor ends Dec. 8.

She continued to say that in the days before she went public with the affair, Patton's attorney attempted to stop her by negotiating an out-of-court settlement. But Conner said her former attorney, Fred Radolovich, never told her about the settlement offer.

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Sunday's local news report